As India awaits the delivery of the refurbished Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, Russia has started the delivery of 11 MiG fighter planes which India will use to equip the aircraft carrier. According to MiG Corporation, 11 MiGs have been dispatched and five more will be delivered by the end of 2011. The contract for 16 MiG-29K/KUB is a part of the refurbishment of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov by Russia for the Indian Navy.
The delivery of the aircraft carrier Gorshkov, to be rechristened INS Vikramaditya, has been plagued by delays and various fluctuations in its price tag. The refurbishment contract of the aircraft carrier was initially valued at less than $ 1billion with its delivery in 2008. However, the price of the contract for the refurbished Gorshkov, including the MiG fighters, was raised to $ 1.5 billion and delivery extended by a few more years. The two countries signed a contract stipulating the supply of 16 MiGs (12 single-seat MiG-29Ks and four two-seat MiG-29KUBs) to India in January 2004.
In March 2010, India and Russia inked an additional $1.5 billion deal for 29 more MiG fighter jets. As per the contract, delivery of the second batch of MiG fighters as well as the aircraft carrier will start in 2012. The contracts for the jets also stipulate pilot training and aircraft maintenance, including the delivery of flight simulators and interactive ground and sea-based training systems. Russia has already started the work on the first fighter from the new contract and Indian representatives have also witnessed its initiation.
Besides the retrofitting contract of the aircraft carrier and additional MiGs, there is a separate contract between India and the Russian MiG Corporation which aims to modernize the MiG-29 fighters with the Indian Air Force (IAF). While the modernization of the MiG fighters is taking place in Russia, the technology used for the up gradation will be transferred to India for refurbishing the rest of the IAF's MiG-29 fleet to MiG-29 UPG.
According to sources, there is a likelihood of a new contract for the supply of 24 more naval MiG-29K fighters between India and Russia. The Russian side has forwarded the necessary documents for the approval of the India Defence Ministry. The new contract maybe signed during the sidelines of the 10th International Aerospace Salon (MAKS) in Russia this month, according to sources.
The Indian Navy’s latest MiG-29 K squadron, dubbed as Black Panther, I s presently based at an airfield in Goa on India's west coast until the retrofitted Admiral Gorshkov (INS Vikramaditya) is inducted in early 2013. The INS Vikramaditya is expected to carry up to 24 MiG-29K/KUB fighters.