New Delhi: Struggling Russian design bureau RAC MiG may indeed look forward to a happier ending for 2009 with unconfirmed reports suggesting that India may have cleared the purchase of another batch of 29 MiG-29Ks - a naval version of the MiG-29 - after the India-specific fighter underwent a successful flight-deck trials from Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in the Barents Sea at the end of September.
According to reports, the fresh order would cost the public exchequer around Rs5,380 crore (approx. $1.12 billion) and would "soon'' be sent to the Cabinet Committee of Security for sanction.
The new order would be in addition to 16 MiG-29Ks already contracted through the initial $1.5-billion Admiral Gorshkov package deal. While 12 of the first 16 fighters will be the single-seat `K' variants, the other four will be twin-seater `KUB' trainer versions.
Similarly, four of the next batch of 29 will be `KUB' trainer versions.
The first four of the contracted 16 MiG-29Ks will arrive in India sometime between now and November.
Apparently, the fresh order for 29 more MiG-29Ks was cleared by Defence Acquisitions Council, chaired by defence minister AK Antony, quite some time ago, but the decision was kept pending as the fighter was yet to be tested for landings and take-offs from a carrier deck. This took place at the end of last month with a delegation from the Indian Navy in attendance to witness the event. The MiG-29K is now due to complete weapon trials before shipment to India begins.