Russia will begin delivery of the MiG-29K fighter jets to the Indian Navy in May this year, according to Indian navy chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, as quoted by RIA Novosti news agency. The aircraft have been contracted for the Kiev-class aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov (INS Vikramaditya), which lies berthed at the Sevmash shipyard - embroiled in cost escalation controversies.
Adm Mehta, who heads the Indian Joint Chiefs of Staff, is on a six-day visit to Russia.
"We are on the threshold of the delivery phase," Admiral Sureesh Mehta said. "The first MiG-29K will be handed over in May of this year."
Under a $700 million contract, Russia has agreed to supply 16 carrier-based fighters, including 4 training aircraft. There is also an option for the supply of an additional 30 fighters by 2015.
The announcement comes even as Indian officials have begun to openly air resentments about the inordinate delays that Russia-based acquisition programmes are experiencing. Recently, Adm Mehta had shocked many with an outburst against the Russians, when he said that extra payments would not be paid for the refurbishments that the Russians were supposed to make contractually.
He also stated that Adm Gorshkov was Indian property, already paid for in part through advances made for the refit programme.
Reportedly, the Russians are demanding an additional $1.2 billion for completing the refit programme of the 44,570 tonne carrier. Apart from pushing up the price, Moscow has also pushed back delivery from August 2008 to 2012.
Meanwhile, in Moscow, Adm Mehta said that India would "not" renegotiate the Gorshkov aircraft carrier deal with Russia. He, however, said that New Delhi would be willing to pay extra for work not listed in the original contract.
"We are not going to renegotiate the contract. It is an inter-governmental contract, which has to be fulfilled. We, however, are ready to pay extra for work which was not listed in the original contract," Adm Mehta said.
He clarified that the amount would be much less than the $1.2 billion asked for by Russia. He said that a Russian team was in India to negotiate the financial issue.
"We hope that all the financial issues will be closed within two-three months and a team of Rosoboronexport (ROE) is currently in New Delhi," he said.
Adm Mehta will visit the Sevmash shipyard, where Gorshkov is undergoing refit, on Sunday.
Adm Mehta said that the cost escalation was due mainly to replacement of unusable components, which were presumed fit. "For example, initially we thought a pump was OK and its servicing was enough, but when disassembled it turned out unserviceable and we have to replace it with a new one, such is the case with cabling," he said.
According to RAC MiG, both the MiG-29K (single seat) and MiG-29KUB (double seat) aircraft are the "4++" generation multi-role fighters intended for air-defence missions of naval forces, gaining air superiority, interdicting sea and ground targets with high precision guided weapons, day or night and in any weather conditions.
The MiG-29K/KUB aircraft are meant for operations from aircraft carriers of 28,000 tonnes onward that are equipped with take-off ramps and landing arrestors, as well as from airfields.
The following are the main features of the MiG-29K/KUB fighters:
– Improved airframe, with about 15% composite materials application;
– Folding wing with upgraded high-lift devices improving take-off/landing performance;
– Fly-by-wire control system with quadruple redundancy;
– Significantly reduced signature in radar range;
– Increased weapons load, stored at eight external hard points;
– Increased internal fuel capacity and in-flight refueling possibility;
– Possibility of other aircraft refuelling, being equipped with "PAZ-1MK" refuelling unit.
As compared to a previous generation of MiG-29s, the MiG-29K/KUB will fly twice longer even as flight costs are reduced by two and a half times.
The power plant includes two engines RD-33MK with increased thrust power, equipped with smokeless combustion chamber and new electronic control system (of FADEC type).
Engines are of the module structure and have increased reliability and service life.
The airborne avionics is of the open architecture based on MIL-STD-1553B standard.
The fighter has multi-role, multi-mode, pulse-Doppler type Zhuk-ME radar manufactured by Phazotron-NIIP Corporation. The slot array radar has wider scanning angle in azimuth, twice as longer target detection range, less weight and increased reliability. The Zhuk-ME can track up to 10 targets, engaging four simultaneously with missiles.
The MiG-29K/KUB fighters are equipped with state-of-the-art, multi-channel, IRST with target designation system to the anti-radar passive warhead missiles.
It can also install IR and laser sighting equipment pods for illumination of ground targets.
Open architecture avionics allows installation of new equipment and weapons of Russian and foreign origin on the aircraft upon customer's request.
Weapon systems include air-to-air, air-to-ship missiles, guided aerial bombs, rockets, aerial bombs and built-in gun of 30 mm calibre.
The MiG-29K/KUB fighters are in production under contract from the Indian Navy. The first flight took place in January 2007.
|Performance: ||MiG-29K ||MiG-29KUB|
|Length, m ||17,3 ||17,3|
|Wing span, m* ||11,99 ||11,99|
|Height, m ||4,4 ||4,4|
|Take-off weight, kg: || |
|- standard ||18 550 ||18 650|
|- maximum ||24 500 ||24 500|
|Maximum flight speed, km/h: || |
|- near ground ||1400 ||1400|
|- at high altitude ||2200 ||2100|
|Service ceiling, m ||17 500 ||17 500|
|Maximum G-load ||8 ||8|
|Ferry range, km: || |
|- without drop tanks ||2000 ||1700|
|- with 3 drop tanks ||3000 ||2700|
|- with 3 drop tanks & one in-flight refueling ||5500 ||5500|
|Engines ||RD-33MK ||RD-33MK|
|Take-off thrust, kgf ||2-9000 ||2-9000|
|Weapons: || |
|Number of external stations ||8 ||8|
|A-A missiles: || |
|- middle range ||6-RVV-AE ||6-RVV-AE|
|- short range ||8-R-73E ||8-R-73E|
|A-S missiles: || |
|- anti-ship ||4-Kh-31A, Kh-35E ||4-Kh-31A, Kh-35E|
|- anti-radar ||4-Kh-31P ||4-Kh-31P|
|Guided bombs ||4-KAB-500Kr ||4-KAB-500Kr|
|Air gun, 30 mm ||GSh-301 ||GSh-301|
* in unfolded (fly) condition
(Source: RAC MiG)