The Northern Fleet’s combat pilots have successfully flown over the Vikramaditya’s deck. Source: AO Sevmash press office
(Updated with further details on aviation tests, background)
The INS Vikramaditya, the Indian Navy’s state-of-the art aircraft carrier passed all tests and returned to the Sevmash shipyard from the testing area in the Barents Sea on the evening of Saturday September 21.
During the 108-day trials in the White and Barents Seas, the INS Vikramaditya covered 12,650 miles, enough to circumnavigate the globe.
“In less than three months, carrier-based fighters made 57 flights, including 47 flights returning to land on the aircraft carrier. It was a major achievement that the fighters made 12 night takeoffs and landings, something that Russian carrier aircraft had not done since 1999,” the shipbuilder’s press service told RIR.
In other words, naval pilots and their training specialists from Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG and the State Flight Test Centre managed to revive and master some of the essential flight skills using the “customer’s hardware.”
The Indian Navy observation group and the Indian crew led by Commodore Suraj Berry witnessed the true capabilities of the “floating airfield” that will soon be handed over to the Indian Navy. According to eyewitnesses, the Russian test pilots landed the fighters perfectly on the carrier at night using only onboard instruments and commands from the visual landing team.
On July 3, the Vikramaditya, refurbished on behalf of the Indian Navy, sailed to the White Sea for repeat trials (after repairs on its steam boilers were completed). This time around, the power plant was beyond reproach – the ship achieved the required 29 knots while demonstrating good manoeuvrability.
In the White Sea, the team thoroughly checked the eight boilers of the power plant following their overhaul —first at low and half speed and then at full speed, once they were sure the power unit was stable. Also in the White Sea, Northern Fleet aircraft made flights to check the carrier’s electronic warfare systems.
This was followed by joint trial missions with the Northern Fleet’s naval aircraft at the Barents Sea. The MiG and the Sukhoi aircraft performed daytime and night-time take-offs and landings, with different sets of armaments and fuel loads. According to unofficial reports, both the equipment and the people operating it performed brilliantly. In any case, the customer’s representatives were on hand to witness the action and were happy with what they saw.
A few details for those keen on ship-based aviation: five types of aircraft: the Il-38, A-50, MiG-29K, MiG-29KUB and Su-33, and three types of helicopter: the search and rescue Ka-27PS, the anti-submarine Ka-27PL and the radar warning Ка-31R, were used to test INS Vikramaditya’s air and technical facilities.Kamov helicopters made a total of 30 flights from the aircraft carrier at different times of night and day and in any weather conditions, thus confirming the design parameters of INS Vikramaditya’s systems and facilities under various conditions.
On the night of July 28, after getting the green light from the sea trials chief captain of the first rank Alexander Shevchenko, INS Vikramaditya reached its flank speed. The maximum speed gained by the carrier was 29.2 knots, above the maximum of 29 knots indicated in the technical specifications.
The carrier was commanded alternately by the Russian crew commander Captain of the first rank Igor Ryabko and Commodore Suraj Berry. The Indian navy sailors (there were 875 of them on board INS Vikramaditya at the end of the trials) had their marine and ship practice at designated combat stations.
During its return trip, on the White Sea, the ship once again went full steam ahead at the request of the Indian side, achieving 29.5 knots to meet the design specifications. According to Rossiyskaya Gazeta sources, the ship also went full steam in reverse at 15.2 knots. The commander of the Russian crew, Captain Igor Ryabko, and Indian Navy Commodore Suraj Berry took turns at the controls.
The shipyard’s workers are now preparing the ship for official delivery to the customer. A special handover ceremony has been scheduled for November 15.
Informed sources tell RIR that the Vikramaditya will reach India’s west coast by the middle of January 2014.
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