Ahead of its scheduled induction into the Indian Navy on December 4 this year, INS Vikramaditya, the erstwhile Admiral Gorshkov of the Russian Navy, will go in for its aviation trials, when fighter planes will take off from its flight deck, by mid-July, navy officers have said.
The 45,000-tonne warship, which was under a refit at the Sevmash shipyard in Russia after India purchased it in 2004 for which $2.3-billion will be paid as a final price, had recently gone for sea trials to establish its sea-worthiness in the While Sea.
The Russians, who are testing the warship before handing over to the Indian crew, will flying the Russian Navy's MiG-29K and the latest MiG-35 from the flight deck, while sailing in the Barents Sea, the officers said.
INS Vikramaditya's aviation component will comprise of 40 MiG-29K planes and helicopters.
During the trials, the warships navigational and landing aids, arrestor gear system, restraining gear, directional and control systems, and deck lighting will be tested. An Indian Navy team, comprising about 15 personnel, will be present on board the ship when the trials take place, they said.
The aviation complex trials will go on for about three months before the warship is handed over to the Indian Navy crew -- about 500 of them are already on board -- ahead of the December induction. The ship is expected to sail out of Russia early next year and reach India within the first quarter of 2013.
Besides the fighter trials, the Russians will also carry out helicopter trials during the three-month aviation complex testing, officers said.
All of the aviation assets during the trials will be flown by Russian pilots.
Indian Navy MiG-29K pilots, who are currently training at Goa, will go to Ukraine for furthering training from a shore-based facility. They will, however, fly from aboard Vikramaditya only after the warship is handed over to the Indian Navy formally.
India is keenly awaiting INS Vikramaditya's induction into its navy, as it intends to soon operate at least two aircraft carriers at any given time on its eastern and western seaboards, as enunciated by Indian Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma last week in London.
India already operates the 29,000-tonne INS Viraat, a 53-year-old aircraft carrier, which will be in service till 2016, when the 40,000-tonne Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC), INS Vikrant, under construction at the Cochin Shipyard, is likely to be inducted into naval service.