Sunday, May 12, 2013

India Commissions First MiG-29K Squadron

India has commissioned its first MiG-29K/KUB squadron, the Black Panthers. The squadron consists of 12 single-seat MiG-29K and 4 dual-seat MiG-29KUB, which were ordered in 2004 and delivered between 2010 and 2011.

The MiG-29K from the MiG Corporation is based on the MiG-29M, but with extensive modifications, including:
  • folding wings 
  • an arrester tail-hook
  • strengthened airframe
  • multi-role capability
  • compatibility with various air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons
The MiG-29K is designed for Ski Jump Take Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) operations aboard aircraft carriers.

India placed a second order for 29 MiG-29K/KUB aircraft in 2011 with the first four delivered in December 2012. It is scheduled to receive at least four more MiG-29K in 2013.

The MiG-29K were originally supposed to be stationed aboard the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, formerly the Admiral Gorshkov, whose delivery has been delayed by several years.

Necessary modifications to the ship have proven to be troublesome with the latest problems due to its boilers. The ship is now scheduled to be handed over to India in late 2013.

The MiG Corporation is also tasked with modernizing India's older MiG-29 combat aircraft acquired during the eighties. Around 69 aircraft are to be upgraded in all.

India received the first 3 upgraded MiG-29UPG in 2012. Another three will be upgraded in Russia before delivery to India. The remaining aircraft will be upgraded in India itself.

The Russian Navy also ordered 20 MiG-29K and 4 MiG-29KUB in 2012 for the Admiral Kuznetsov. Russia will begin receiving the first MiG-29K in 2013 and deliveries are to be complete in 2015.

According to the MiG Corporation, the Russian units will be different, but exact changes have not been revealed.  In general, the domestic versions of Russian fighter aircraft tend to be superior to the export versions.

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