By one measure more than 32 years in the making, India’s new aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, departed Severodvinsk harbor on June 8 and sailed into the White Sea for trials, including takeoffs and landings of Mikoyan MiG-29K/KUB fighters and Kamov Ka-27 helicopters.
The naval prototype of India’s Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) made its first test flight on April 27. Already delayed by four years, the program still faces design concerns, including weight. Strengthening of the rear airframe for carrier operations, and the addition of an arrestor hook, has made the aircraft about 1,000 pounds overweight.
The prototype MiG-29K (side number 311) was loaded by crane onto India’s new aircraft carrier in Severodvinsk last month. The Sevmash Dockyard said that work to convert the former Russian cruiser Gorshkov is 90 percent complete.
The first of eight P-8I maritime patrol aircraft that Boeing is building for the Indian navy made its initial flight September 28. The 737 derivative flew for two hours and 31 minutes, reaching a maximum altitude of 41,000 feet during the test flight from Renton Municipal Airport to Boeing Field in Seattle.
Recent orders for the Mikoyan MiG-29K may pave the way for further successes for the sea-going version of the “Fulcrum,” according to RSK MiG. A first batch of MiG-29Ks and KUB trainers for the Indian navy was followed by a second order this March for 29 aircraft. Meanwhile, the Russian navy has decided to buy 26 MiG-29K/KUBs to replace its Sukhoi Su-33s.
Attempts by India to fast-track the procurement process for its 126-aircraft Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft requirement have come unstuck as the evaluation process has taken far longer than initially expected.
India’s Pawan Hans Helicopters (PHHL), a government enterprise that claims to be the largest helicopter operator in the country’s civil and parapublic market, signed a $9.8 million contract for three AS 350B3 Ecureuils in June.
Chairman and managing director R. K. Tyagi told AIN the company expects delivery of the helicopters around August or September next year.
India’s air force is planning to arm its growing fleet of Sukhoi Su-30MKI Flanker-H fighters with anti-ship missiles developed by the Russian-Indian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace. The missiles are expected to be ready to enter service in 2012 and are intended to bolster the air force’s ability to neutralize naval threats while they are still far from India’s coast.
Last year, Russian defense export agency Rosoboronexport (Hall 1 Stand B13) achieved a new post-Soviet-period record for export of military hardware totaling $6.2 billion. Its previous record of $5.3 billion was established in 2006, a significant rise over $3 billion worth of sales in 2000.
The proliferation and diversification of international terrorism and crime is fueling demand for next-generation patrol aircraft for surveillance of airspace, sea and land. Nations such as Russia, Ukraine, China, India, Malaysia, South Korea and Iran want a single aircraft platform for such roles.
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