India to deploy MiG-29s to protect east coast

The MiG-29K is a naval variant of the MiG-29 land-based fighter. Source: MiG Corporation

The MiG-29K is a naval variant of the MiG-29 land-based fighter. Source: MiG Corporation

Preparations are on to permanently base a squadron of 17 aircrafts to enhance the security of India’s energy-rich eastern seaboard.

The Indian Navy is planning to deploy MiG-29K and MiG-29KUB fighters to protect the east coast of the country, DefenceWorld.Net said on Tuesday.

The website cited media reports as saying that preparations are on to permanently base a squadron of 17 aircrafts to enhance the security of India’s energy-rich eastern seaboard.

The MiG-29Ks will be based on the INS Vikrant aircraft carrier, for which work is going on at the Cochin Shipyard, according to the website.  Russia will deliver the second squadron of aircraft meant for the indigenous aircraft carrier by 2015, DefenceWorld added.

Last year, the Indian Navy commissioned its first squadron of MiG-29K/KUB shipborne fighters, dubbed the ‘Black Panthers.’ The squadron comprised of 12 single-seat MiG-29Ks and four two-seat MiG-29KUBs, which Russia supplied under the 2004 contract with the Indian Defence Ministry.

The MiG-29K is a naval variant of the MiG-29 land-based fighter, and has folding wings, an arrester tail-hook, strengthened airframe and multirole capability. It can be armed with a wide variety of air-to-air and air-to-surface weaponry.

India is modernising its Soviet fighters under the MiG-29UPG programme to bring all the fighters up to the capability level of the MiG-29K and the MiG-29KUB.

The purpose of the basic versions of the MiG-29 fighter is only to gain superiority in the air, while the modernised MiG-29UPG planes will be able to attack ground targets and ships – both stationary and moving – at any time of day or night and regardless of weather conditions.

The Indian Air Force has been equipped with MiG-29 tactical fighters since 1987. India acquired a total of 80 fighters of this type from the USSR and Russia, including 70 single-seat MiG-29Bs and 10 two-seat MiG-29UB trainers. Delivery of the first batch of 44 aircraft began in 1987, the second batch of 26 fighters was supplied in 1989, and the third batch – a further 10 planes – was supplied in 1994.

The modernisation concept for the Indian MiG-29s is the same as that used for Russia’s MiG-29SMT programme. These fighters have been in service with Russian air force units since 2009 and are already being used successfully by pilots.

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