INS Vikramaditya. Source: Oleg Perov / Sevmash press office
The Russian-built INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier is fully operational and has a sufficient number of pilots qualified to operate from its airfield, Indian Navy Chief Admiral Robin Dhowan told the Indian Express.
“The ship is now operationally deployed and our pilots have been conducting regular flying operations. An adequate number of pilots have been trained,” the navy chief told the paper and added that the training was initially carried out by qualified flight instructors from Russia. Dhowan expressed satisfaction at the smooth sail of the Vikramaditya from Russia to India and said that the Navy was satisfied with its new flagship aircraft carrier, according to the report.
The warship, previously known as the Admiral Gorshkov, is a Project 1143.4 or modified Kiev class aircraft carrier commissioned by the Soviet Navy in 1987 and decommissioned in 1996 after cuts to the Russian Navy fleet.
After a complete overhaul, the ship got a new flight deck and a ski-jump ramp for MiG-29K jet fighters, navigation, radar, communication and flight control systems, other equipment and units. Russia also trained an Indian crew of about 1,500 personnel and will build infrastructure for the aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean. The ship is expected to operate for 25-30 years.
The ship has a displacement of 45,000 tonnes, a maximum speed of 32 knots and an endurance of 13,500 nautical miles (25,000 km) at a cruising speed of 18 knots.
The Indian Express added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi could visit the ship for an official commissioning ceremony.
The Indian Navy has put off the ceremony in the wake of several accidents on its vessels that began in August 2013 and led to the resignation of Admiral D K Joshi.
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