Maxim Pyadushkin writes:
The Indian Navy may start preparing to get into service the second aircraft carrier. On June 8, INS Vikramaditya left Russia's Sevmash shipyard in Severdvinsk to head for its first sea trials. According to Sevmash, the trials will take 124 days. They will start in the White Sea, then the ship will sail further north, to the Barents Sea to test its air wing. Despite the fact that India has already trained the crew staff for Vikramaditya, during the trials the carrier will be operated by Russians accompanied by Indian Navy inspectors.
This Kiev-class ship (named Admiral Gorshkov when it was in Russian service) has been under repair and modernization at Sevmash for the Indian Navy since 2004. The refurbishment included removal of all the weaponry from the ship’s foredeck that was extended and received a ski-jump to able to operate MiG-29K STOBAR aircraft. India currently operates 21 MiG-29Ks and two-seat MiG-29KUB fighters and is expected to get 24 more.
The Russian shipbuilder insists that it has de facto created a new ship as Vikramaditya also received new navigation and radar systems as well as aviation control and communication equipment. After the completion of the modernization the ship's displacement will exceed 45,000 tons. With a length of 283 meters and width of 59.8 meters, the carrier can house 30 aircraft and 1,924 crew. Vikramaditya is expected to be handed over to the customer in December 2012.
Photo: Maxim Vorkunkov/Sevmash