Indian Navy Flight Ops Moving Forward

Turkish Weekly reports the following:

A MiG-29KUB two-seat naval fighter jet made the first touch-and-go landings last week on the Indian Navy aircraft carrier Vikramaditya, Sevmash shipyard said on Monday.

The ship is currently undergoing sea trials in the Barents Sea off the north coast of Russia.

The jet, piloted by navy test-pilots Col. Nikolai Diorditsa and Mikhail Belyaev, completed several approaches to the carrier and finally made a touch-and-go landing.

The Vikramaditya, formerly the Russian Navy’s Admiral Gorshkov, is to be handed over to India after the trials after a much-delayed refit.

The ship was extensively modified to undertake STOBAR (short takeoff but assisted recovery) operations with MiG-29K naval fighter aircraft, as well as receiving new air defense, communications and navigations systems.

Nice milestone, but let’s see how long it takes for them to fly a nine-cycle, 24-sorties-per-cycle kind of day — just another day for a Nimitz class carrier at sea.  Of course it’s perhaps a bit unfair to compare a STOBAR (rhymes with FUBAR — coincidence?) carrier with one with catapults; the point is the capability of the American Navy is hard fought and should be preserved as defense budgets get scrutinized like never before in the coming months.  Try flying an 800-mile airstrike with an organic package using a boat like the former Admiral Gorshkov.

Of course, India doesn’t necessarily care about the American Navy.  Whatdaya got, Pakistan?

  • HurS

    It’s not comparably to a Nimitz class carrier, so why even compare it to one? Not very impressive analysis, Defense Tech.

  • Ben

    See, there’s a real problem with measuring a country’s military strength by carrier capabilities. If it were 20-30 years ago, I’d have no argument, but in the modern age carriers are essentially $10+ billion dollar floating targets. With the growing prevalence of guided missiles, submarines, and stealth aircraft around the world carriers are becoming significantly less survivable. They work great for 3rd world countries, but they’d likely be some of the first things to go in a real fight.

  • Marcellus Hambrick

    The naval threat to India is China, not Pakistan. They need competent escorts as some of the defensive systems have been stripped from this ship during its refit.

  • EJ257

    This is meant to be a check against China. It’s funny, both this and the Shi Lang used to be ships in the same navy and now they’re facing off against each other on opposite sides.

    • blight_

      If the PRC wanted to check India, they’d likely invest in strategic bombers, fly over the mountains and bomb India.

      Going south out of regional waters into an area you don’t have bases in just to strike India seems a little crazy. Of course, it will happen if China wants to become a blue-water navy.

  • Lance

    India has surpassed China in the carrier game. They both have Flat Tops but India has air wings for them China doesn’t have any fixed wing planes for its carriers. Overall the MiG-29K is better for foreign carriers Russia dumped the Su-33 due to its hard to handle size and they have maintenance problems. The MiG-29 is compatible with the F-18 in multirole mission good for India. Russia following site Good to see a new job for the MiG.

    • blight_

      India has also had a carrier for a longer period of time. Granted, it was an older WW2-era carrier, but experience with a starter carrier counts in the short term.

    • Howie

      Sooo untrue. The Su-33 has allready seen its last overhaul, and its flying life hour are slowly but certain coming to an end. The Mig-29 are cheaper to maintain and operate, the K version was also a gesture to Mig RAC somewhat slow economic growt. The Deck fotprint of the Su-33 are in fact surprisely small.

      • blight_

        The -33 also had a terminated build, and as Americans have bitter experience with, once you terminate a production line, it often doesn’t make sense to reactivate it when you have alternatives in the pipeline.

        That said, the Indians are getting Gorshkov which is built on a Kiev hull, like Kiev and Minsk which the PRC has but never messed with. Their Varyag was the newest class, equivalent to the Kusnetsov still in service with the Russian fleet; but since it was largely incomplete when left in ordinary, it is more blank-slate than what the Indian Navy is getting: a teardown and rebuild of a Kiev.

  • tmb2

    Why is the author giving India a hard time? There are only a handful of nations that possess carriers to begin with and getting into the game isn’t easy, cheap, or quick. Congratulations to the Indian Navy for hitting another benchmark in their pursuit of this capability.

  • Hunter76

    There are 2 separate areas where STOVLs have advantages that can outweigh their costs:

    1) marine (small m). Out on the ocean there aren’t many airports. It’s nice to able to land on a ship. And ships can always run full speed into the wind, increasing your chances of getting off again.

    2) “Honey, Sorry, I’m not coming home again.” If your air force is investing heavily in STOVLs; it’s saying it’s not certain the aircraft will have an airport to come back to. Let it land anywhere, get supplies to it, and let it take off from a weak field.

  • So?

    For those who tldr;

    American Penis – BIG
    indian penis – small

  • So?

    What the hell does it have to do with Pakistan? Pakistan is to India what North Korea is to South Korea. A big PITA, but nothing more. They have bigger fish to fry.

  • BlackOwl18E

    It almost seems like India and China are racing to get a carrier in their navies and right now India is winning, mostly because they paid the Russians to make it and provide the training.

  • Stratege

    Vikramaditya is not Gorshkov anymore. The ship has been highly redesigned

  • the_

    not surprising is the fact that nobody has yet made a single comment about the extreme poverty that most of the indian people suffer everyday and how many thousands the money the indian government spent on that huge-pointless-moneydraining bathtub would help. but then again, poor people don’t matter anyway, they just supply cannon-fodder for highly educated “generals” playground…

    • tiger

      We in the USA are not doing that great either. I have been near broke for months. Just happy to have to lights on still.

    • blight_

      Hey, welcome to every country on the planet.

      • tiger

        Well at least Greece & Spain & a few others on the brink.

    • The Proud Indian

      Yep…. there are many people in India who live in extreme poverty. Wish we had a magic wand which could eliminate this problem for us in a sec.
      By d way any guesses how much time does it take to remove poverty ??
      It seems even supposedly developed nations like EU, USA are still grappling with this plague. To sum it up in statistics, nearly 16% of EU population roughly 76 million people are at risk of poverty. (check for countries like Lithuania, Poland, Greece, Portugal as per 2005 census).
      The point is, India in only 50 years of its independence from Colonial rule have been attacked 5 times (1947, 1962, 1965, 1971, 1999). The offenders did not give it a thought that OK these guys are poor, let them breathe. They still attacked us.
      So what’s your suggestion we do? Wait for another 50-100 years till we achieve a perfect figure of 0% poor in poverty index, then concentrate on security.

      By the way… our defence allocation is still meagre when compared with other countries. In our quest for credible minimum deterrence we haven’t forgotten the poverty factor, and we are working on it.

      Till then…. India cheers for this achievement.

  • ScrewWars

    I’d rather be on the Chinese side than on the Indians. Knowing their people and witnessing/dealing with them I can tell you that they’re nothing but a bunch of flip flopping douches. Here’s to India and China duking it out in the future, and Russia getting destroyed in the middle.

  • ltfunk2

    Oh I get it the Indians are brown so we laugh at them.

  • Matt

    India has been operating carriers (similar to the British STOVL carriers) for decades. They flew Harriers off their carriers, again, like the British. This is a step up for the Indian Navy, not an entry-level move.

    Carriers are THE BEST platform for projecting power. Carriers being the capital ship in any Naval Task Force, they are heavily protected by escorts.

    As China has just ramped up tensions in the South China Sea, nearby countries are wise to get their navies working at peak efficiencies.

  • Riceball

    What was the purpose of these test flights? Considering that the flight(s) was done using Russian pilots what did the Indians get out of it? Was it just some sort of demo for the Indians or what?

  • craj1031tx

    CATOBAR also rhymes with FUBAR…. although it does have an extra syllable, in your defense.

  • blight_

    The Vikramaditya is based on a Kiev (of which the Kiev and the Minsk went to the PRC) and the PRC carrier formerly known as Varyag was a Kuznetsov-class carrier. Though the Gorshkov was the newest Kiev and incorporated modifications, they’re not the same boat.

    The fact that the PRC declined to modify their Kievs in this fashion whereas the Indians are is rather strange.

    Any word on the Vikrant, which is supposed to be an indigenous-build carrier?

  • badbob

    Ben must work for NAVSEA or he’s a gamer…If the US navy’s centerpiece capital ship is such an anachronism, why do our adeveraries/competitors covet the capability?

    re- ” fly a nine-cycle, 24-sorties-per-cycle kind of day — just another day for a Nimitz class carrier at sea.”

    Bluewater no divert? Since when? Not with a Hornet only wing.