The 19th day of Feb 2010, was marked with the take-off of the Indian Navy’s new fighter aircraft – the MiG-29K with full afterburners. The new fighter displayed its agility by breaking into an almost vertical climb within seconds after take-off. This was part of the ceremony to formally induct MiG-29K ‘air dominance fighter’ aircraft, into the Indian Navy.
The grand ceremony to formally induct the aircraft into the Indian Navy was held at INS Hansa, Vasco da Gama, Goa. The Raksha Mantri [RM, or Minister of Defence—Ed.], Shri AK Anthony, was the Chief Guest for the ceremony. The might of Naval Aviation was on display- both in the air and on ground. In addition to the MiG-29K itself, the air display included a grand fly-past comprising of Sea Harrier, Ilyushin-38 (Sea Dragon), Chetak, Kiran and Dornier. The Sagar Pawan Aerobatic team also displayed its prowess in various breathtaking formation aerobatic manoeuvres.
The Hon’ble RM on arrival at INS Hansa was received by a ceremonial guard of honour. Addressing the gathering after witnessing a fly-past, the Hon’ble RM said that the induction of MiG 29K fighters into the navy fulfils a long-standing requirement of our navy.
“With today’s induction of the MiG 29 K, coupled with future inductions of aircraft carriers our navy’s capability will see a quantum jump”, he added. He stated that such an addition to our inventory was in fact overdue as the operational role of the Indian Navy has increased manifold. To get a feel of the cockpit, the RM embarked the aircraft on static display and was briefed about the capabilities of the fighter.
The MiG-29K is among the latest and most potent fighters designed by the Mikoyan Gurevich bureau. Whilst talking of the capability of the aircraft the Commanding Officer of the air station at Goa where the aircraft were inducted said that “despite the similarity in the nomenclature and appearance between the IAF’s MiG-29 and the Indian Navy’s MiG-29K, they are quite different from each other”.
The new MiG-29K belongs to the 4+ generation and is capable of fulfilling multiple roles. The new aircraft is more than 30% heavier than the MiG-29 B (IAF). The MIG-29K will be equipped with anti-aircraft Beyond Visual Range missiles, guided anti-ship missiles, ‘smart’ guided-bombs and rockets.
Computers proliferate in all the systems on board the MIG-29K, including weapon systems, navigation systems, instrumentation, flight controls and safety systems. The pilot’s helmet is equipped with advanced features permitting the pilot to shoot a target by merely looking at it. With all these systems, the MiG-29K is indeed a fighter to reckon with and is arguably one of the best in the sub-continent today.
The naval fighter fraternity has been heard referring to the MiG-29K as ‘Game Changers’ and ‘Foe Busters’. Be that as it may, the MiG 29K squadron will be fondly called the Black Panthers