Aviation trials of India’s second aircraft carrier are set to begin soon in anticipation of the refurbished Russian carrier’s induction into India’s navy on Dec. 4.
The “aviation facilities complex trials” of the 45,000-ton, 284-meter (932-ft.) long INS Vikramaditya, formerly the Russian Kiev-class Admiral Gorshkov, will begin before mid-August in the Barents Sea, off Russia, a naval official says.
During the air wing trials, the Russian crew will deploy two aircraft — the MiG-29K and MiG-35 — to check facilities such as navigation, landing, radars, deck lighting and restraining gears. Indian navy aviation personnel, technical experts and pilots on board the aircraft carrier will oversee the trials, the official says.
The trials of the extensively modernized aircraft carrier are expected to last three months. Sea trials of the aircraft carrier began earlier this month from the Sevmash shipyard in the northern port city of Severodvinsk in the White Sea.
“Touch-and-go training by fighters are [scheduled], along with other flight profiles,” the official says, adding it will now move toward the Barents Sea for the aviation trials.
Last week, a MiG-29KUB two-seat naval fighter made the first touch-and-go landings on the carrier. The jet, piloted by navy test pilots Col. Nikolai Diorditsa and Mikhail Belyaev, completed several approaches to the carrier and finally made a touch-and-go landing, the official says.
Once the carrier is inducted, the INS Vikramaditya will be the biggest ship in the Indian military, able to carry 24 MiG-29K/KUBs and six to eightKa-31 airborne early warning helicopters. It will then join India’s current sole carrier, the INS Virat.
Navy chief Adm. Nirmal Verma says the aim is to have at least two fully operational and combat-ready carriers available at any given time. The Indian navy wants to operate two such warships at its eastern and western seaboards.
The carrier deal between India and Russia was signed in 2004, but delivery was delayed by four years due to cost revisions by Russia to retrofit the ship.
Major changes to the ship include the removal of cruise missile tubes and surface-to-air missile vertical launchers, and the installation of a forward flight deck and ski jump for short-takeoff, assisted-recovery operations.