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.

  • 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.

    • blight_

      India already has carriers, but they’re old WW2-era carriers of the Royal Navy. The Gorshkov will be their most modern vessel, and they’re pulling out all the stops with a buy of new combat aircraft: Mig-29K’s, to replace the harriers that went with their legacy flat-tops.

      • tmb2

        I stand corrected. Still, good for them for getting their new toys to work well together. My criticism of DT on this piece still stands though. It reads as juvenile **** measuring. Meanwhile there’s an article on Buzz about how the LCSs may never be able to live up to their powerpoint expectations.

        • blight_


          I miss Noah. ;(

          Edit: And in other news, India picks the Apache.

          • tiger

            The Ark guy? Having spent a week end cleaning a horse stable, That ride must not have been fun with all those animals. Damn, I need a steady gig…

          • blight_

            Schachtman, who did DT back in the day.

  • 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.

    • tiger

      Plus with UAV’s comming to sea, a big deck is not needed anymore. At least Stovl & VOTL is easier than the days of seaplanes on ships.

  • 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.

    • blight_

      You stop being /just/ a PITA when you detonate a nuclear weapon.

      • So?

        Yeah, just like North Korea they detonated a bunch of fizzles. Their arsenal has a huge question mark hanging over it.

        • blight_

          The yield on the Pak weapon was reliably estimated from the test detonation’s seismic profile. Same with the DPRK’s weapon.

          • So?

            The seismic profile reported is much smaller than what the Pakis claim. Unle

          • blight_

            Mm. Looking into it.

            Looks like Chagai-II was pretty egregious, at least according to BAS:

            I thought Chagai-I was somewhat more powerful as measured, but that Chagai-II was their “practical” weapon.

            2kt plus or minus is sufficient to put on the hurt.

  • 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.

    • blight_

      India had a carrier first. I wonder if the Indians were able to leverage anything from demobilized commonwealth forces. For instance, post-independence many British officers stayed on in overseas posts (for instance, Glubb Pasha in Jordan and other British officers in the Arab Legion).

      That said, they commissioned their first carrier in ’61. That gives them 40 years with their starter carrier…

    • NICO_IN_AZ

      I think that the fact that India already has years of experience operating carriers shows compared to China. Not only the fact that they are already seem to be flying off the carrier but even in general TASK Force operations with a fleet, I am going to say that India should have a distinct advantage.

  • 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…

  • 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.