MiG-29 K Squadron commissioned into Indian Navy
Defence Minister AK Antony today commissioned the first MiG-29 K - supersonic fighter jets squadron into the Indian Navy at the INS Hansa in Goa.
India has about 45 MiG-29K which have cost the exchequer $2.4 billion (over Rs. 13,200 crore). A squadron each will be positioned on board INS Vikramaditya and the indigenously-made aircraft carrier - INS Vikrant - that is expected to be launched on July 12, 2013. Till then the planes will fly from Goa.
This is the first-induction of fighters in the Navy since the Sea Harriers were commissioned in early 1980s.
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In the 60 years of the Fleet Air Arm, this is the first time that the Indian Navy will be operating the aircraft that can fly faster than the speed of sound. Moreover, the ability of the MiG-29K to stay in air, cover distance with weapons is about four times more than the existing British made Sea Harrier aircraft. The MiG-29 can also be refuelled mid-air allowing it to cover longer distances.
Speaking to reporters, the Defence Minister said, "India has to maintain an edge over its adversaries in defence preparedness through the acquisition of new technology and better training of the personnel, given the fact that the security scenario in the region is changing at a rapid pace."
"The MiG-29 K will be a game changer in Indian Ocean region. It will allow us to fly longer distances and maintain a better vigil. The arc of the influence of the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean region now stands increased and strengthened," Flag officer Commanding Western Naval Command Admiral Shekhar Sinha, who is also senior-most aviator of the Indian Navy, said.
The commissioning of the MiG-29 K squadron is only the first in a series of new inductions. Next week the Navy expects the first US-made P8i surveillance aircraft to touch down on INS Rajali in Araconam in southern part of Tamil Nadu.
The Navy is also contracting an unspecified number of Unnamed Aerial Vehicles from Israel.
Then, its Fleet Air Arm plans to double its number platforms, which currently stands at about 220