Here Comes the MiG-29K – The Indian Navy reached a historic milestone with its first indigenously-built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, as a MiG-29K conducted the first successful landing and takeoff from the ship’s flight deck this month.
The flattop officially entered service with the Indian Navy last year and has been conducting a number of drills as she prepares for her maiden deployment.
“The successful landing and take off of the indigenous LCA Navy on India’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier is a momentous step forward towards the realisation of our collective vision of AatmaNirbharBharat,” said Admiral R. Hari Kumar, chief of the Naval Staff for the Indian Navy, via a statement.
“The maiden landing of the Mig-29K also heralds the integration of the fighter aircraft with INS Vikrant. Congratulations to all those who made it happen.”
The landing of the Russian-designed Mikoyan MiG-29K (NATO reporting name “Fulcrum-D”) was seen as a significant achievement as it marked the successful integration of the aircraft with the 45,000-tonne indigenous carrier, and further enhanced the combat readiness of the Indian Navy.
The MiG-29K is an all-weather carrier-based multirole fighter that was developed in the late 1980s from the MiG-29M.
The aircraft already operate from India’s INS Vikramaditya, the former Soviet-era Kiev-class carrier that New Delhi purchased from Moscow and which entered service in 2013.
Images of this month’s aircraft’s landing and subsequent takeoff were shared by the official Twitter media account of the Indian Navy, which noted that it “Demonstrates #India’s capability to design, develop, construct & operate #IndigenousAircraftCarrier with indigenous Fighter Aircraft.”
MiG-29K: Expert Analysis
The maiden landing of the MiG-29K aircraft on INS Vikrant should be seen to demonstrate India’s maritime power in the Indian Ocean region, suggested Venkatesh Kandlikar, a defense analyst at international analytics firm GlobalData.
“The move marks the official start of the aircraft carrier’s fighter jet aviation trials, as well as a significant step towards India developing its own deck-based fighters,” Kandlikar said via an email.
“It is also a defining moment for India, as it has only one aircraft carrier operational for aircraft deployment, and the Indian Navy is desperately in need of filling critical gaps. The Indian Navy is also looking to supplement the ship’s offensive element, which consists of MiG-29Ks, with the multi-role carrier-borne fighters to make up for the underwhelming availability and limited number of carrier-based fighters.”
This month’s landing and take-off of the LCA ahead of schedule further indicated that the Indian Navy will have the Vikrant battle-ready soon, as opposed to the delays that are almost expected in operationalizing a modern aircraft carrier. INS Vikrant is the largest-ever warship to be built in India.
“The successful [MiG-29K] flight test also demonstrates trust in indigenous defense capabilities and will significantly boost the Indian Navy’s goal to achieve self-sufficiency in its naval production,” added Kandlikar. “Once the IAC-1 becomes fully operational, it will be a significant addition to the Indian Navy’s chances of projecting maritime power in the Indian Ocean region.”
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.