Thursday, September 10, 2009

IN's MiG-29 K squadron to be named Black Panther

The first four ship-borne Russian-made Mig-29 K/KUB fighter jets, purchased for the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, will be inducted in the Indian Navy by October, officials here said.Pilot training for the squadron, to be named Black Panther, were completed in the US and Russia, said a senior Indian Navy official. The jets were purchased by the Indian Navy as part of the $740 million contract signed in January 2004 for Admiral Gorshkov, to be commissioned as INS Vikramaditya in the navy.

"The pilots were sent to US for deck landing training and the QFIs (qualified flying instructors) to Russia for conversion flying (for converting to different aircraft). The pilots will do the conversion flying in Goa under the supervision of QFIs," the official told IANS on condition of anonymity. Four to five batches comprising four pilots each had gone to the US for the deck landing training. As the 45,000-tonne Kiev class aircraft carrier Gorshkov is scheduled to be inducted in service only by 2011 after its refurbishment, the aircraft will be based on shore.

The navy will be getting 12 MiG 29K single-seater aircraft and four MiG 29KUB double-seater trainer aircraft in flyaway condition. The trainer version is similar to the single-seater but with a slightly reduced operational range. The contract also stipulates the procurement of hardware for pilot training and aircraft maintenance, including flight simulators, and interactive ground and sea-based training systems.

The MiG 29K have arrestor gear and stronger landing gear for carrier landings, folding wings and rust proofing to reduce corrosion from salt water. Features of the aircraft include a fully digitised glass cockpit, improved engine protection against ingestion of foreign particles (like birds), a multi-mode radar and increased range due to increase in internal fuel capacity.

The MiG-29K multi-role carrier-based fighter is designed to air cover the ship grouping, gain air superiority and destroy sea surface and ground targets with guided high-precision weapons, day and night, in any weather. The aircraft, the first bought by the navy after the Sea Harriers, will also be capable of playing the role of an air refueller. The contract with MiG will ensure that the navy gets the entire spectrum of services, including a full mission simulator.


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