Defence Minister AK Antony has announced in the Parliament that 15 Russian MiG-29 K fighters have been inducted in the Indian Navy. These MiG-29 K fighters have been inducted for carrier-borne operations and will operate from INS Vikramaditya once it is inducted in December this year.
While indicating that 15 MiG-29K have been inducted, Defence Minister added that a contract has been concluded to acquire an additional 29 MiG-29Ks to strengthen the air combat capability of the Indian Navy. The MiG-29 K series of fighters will also operate from the other aircraft carrier INS Viraat.
In 2004, India had placed an order worth $ 650 million for 16 MiG-29Ks to be used from Ins Vikramaditya which is being refurbished by Russia. Another order for $1.5 billion was placed in early 2010 to purchase the 29 additional MiG-29Ks. Despite a crash of the trainer version of the MiG-29K in 2011, India went ahead with the repeat order of the MiG-29K fighters from Russia.
The MiG-29K has only been exported to India for use on the refitted Russian-built carrier INS Vikramaditya. The MiG-29 K is a naval variant of the MiG-29 land-based fighter and has folding wings, an arrester tail-hook, strengthened airframe and multirole capability. The fighter can be equipped with various air-to-air and air-to-surface weaponry. The MiG-29 K will be in concurrent service with the Russian Navy.
India operates sixteen out of a total of forty MiG-29 K planned for acquisition. The newly designed and upgraded Mig-29K prototype was first revealed by Russia in 2007. The new MiG 29 K came in two versions: the single-seat Mig-29K and the two-seat Mig-29KUB. . The single seat version uses the space for additional avionics and fuel.
The Mig-29K is equipped with the new Zhuk-E radar, which can detect up to ten targets at a time and engage four of them. The Mig-29K is also equipped with an electronic counter measures suite and the pilot is equipped with a helmet-mounted targeting system. The Mig-29K is powered by two RD-33MK engines and has a maximum endurance of 850 kilometres.
Meanwhile, India has already expressed its concern over the MiG aircraft crashes in the recent years. During a meeting held recently with a Russian parliamentary delegation, it has been assured by Russia that it will provide details of crashes involving MiG aircraft across the world in the last 15 years. This will help India determine the crash rate of the fighter planes in the world.