Flight trials of the MiG-29K on the INS Vikramaditya (formerly Admiral Gorshkov) in the Barents Sea have been completed. Deliveries of the naval version of the fighter to India continue, with the carrier to follow on November 15, and the Russian Navy will soon receive its first MiG-29K.
India will launch its 37,500-ton indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-1) on August 12 at the Cochin Shipyard in Kerala. The ship is scheduled for induction by the end of 2018. Meanwhile, the former Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, now the INS Vikramaditya, conducted final trials in the Barents Sea this week with its squadron of MiG-29K combat jets embarked. It is due to be delivered by year-end, after a delay of more than four years.
The Indian Naval air arm is set to double its fleet of 217 aircraft in the next decade. The fleet–a mix of 14 models–“has emerged as a mini air force,” said assistant chief of naval staff (Air) Rear Admiral D.M. Sudan.
The first international Joint Strike Fighter, an F-35B for the UK, was rolled out on November 22, one week before a parliamentary report shed more light on the UK’s decision to switch from the STOVL F-35B version to the conventional carrier landing F-35C version.
A century ago, the U.S. Navy purchased its first airplane after a series of tests in which a brave pilot–wearing inflated bicycle inner tubes as a lifejacket–demonstrated one could land safely aboard a ship and then take off from the same vessel. The date of that purchase–May 8, 1911–is considered the birthday of naval aviation. In the hundred years since, the aircraft carrier has evolved from a scouting tool to a leading strike weapon.
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.
It had been a routine flight, right up to the moment that the captain dialed 24,000 into the altitude preselect controller and we began our descent. As I rolled the vertical-speed wheel into a nose-down command, the Citation VII responded slowly, but eventually began a healthy 2,500-fpm descent as we left FL 350 for 240.
Steel-jawed ex-Navy Top Guns may be disappointed to learn about the plan to fully automate aircraft carrier deck landings, in the interest of safety and efficiency. After all, surely, deck landings are pretty straightforward: you just fly the arrester hook hanging out behind your F-14 or F/A-18 through an imaginary three-foot-square box located 14 ft above the stern, and you’re virtually home.