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Aviation trials of INS Vikramaditya to start in July

INS Vikramaditya. Photo: Sevmash shipyard.

NEW DELHI (PTI): Fighter aircraft will start taking off from aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya next month as Russia will start trials of aviation facilities on the warship scheduled to join Indian Navy by December.

The Russian side will start critical trials of the aviation complex of the aircraft carrier from mid-July using two MiG-29K fighter aircraft, Navy officials said here.

The ship trials of the aircraft carrier had started early this month in the White Sea and now it will move towards the Briants Sea for the aviation complex trials, they said.

India had signed a deal worth over USD 2.3 billion with Russia for procuring the aircraft carrier along with a component of MiG-29K naval fighter aircraft for the Navy.

During the trials, the Russian side will check navigation, radars and landing facilities at the warship in presence of the Indian team, they said.

The trials, to continue for another six months, will be done by Russian experts only as the warship is yet to be handed over to India, an official said, adding, "Our pilots will start flying operations on it only after it is officially handed over to us."

As part of the contract, the Indian Navy will send a team of its pilots to Russia for flying operations on the aircraft at a shore-based facility in Ukraine.

The purchase of Admiral Gorshkov was agreed in 2004 but delivery to India has been long delayed. India has already received a squadron of 16 MiG-29K aircraft from Russia and has deployed it at its air base in Goa.

For India, which is operating lone aircraft carrier INS Virat, the Gorshkov is key to its military strategy as it wants to operate two such warships at its two vast Eastern and Western sea boards.

Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma had recently stated that Indian Navy's medium term aim was to to have at least two fully operational and combat-worthy carriers available at any given time.

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