Russian aircraft manufacturing group MiG has started to put its MiG-29K/KUB naval fighter through a new round of flight tests.
Destined to soon serve with the Russian Navy, the MiG-29K/KUB is an all weather-capable multirole carrier-launched fighter developed from the original 1970s-era MiG-29. Initially rejected by the Russian Navy but since ordered by and supplied to the Indian Navy, the MiG-29K will now become the Russian Navy's Sukhoi Su-33 replacement.
A 24 airframe MiG-29K/KUB contract was signed in February 2012, comprised of 20 single seat models (the -Ks) and four two-seat trainers (the -KUBs). All 24 MiGs are now slated for delivery between this year and 2015, with four expected by 2013's end.
Compared to land-based MiG-29 models, the naval MiG-29s have arrestor hooks and strengthened undercarriages, designed to take the impact of aircraft carrier landings at sea. They also boast upgraded engines, more advanced fly-by-wire systems, the capacity to carry more weapons and wings that can fold up - a feature that aids storage on ships.
The Sukhoi Su-33s are restricted to air defence but the multirole-capable MiG-29s can work within air defence, undertake air-to-ground sorties and much more besides.
In Russian Naval service, the 24 MiG-29Ks/KUBs will operate from the Northern Fleet's Admiral Kuznetsov - the only aircraft carrier presently in its service.
Russian MiG-29K Trials
So far, the Russian MiG-29K trials have involved 12 separate sorties, including night-time Admiral Kuznetsov launches and recoveries.
According to Sergei Korotkov, the director general of MiG: "The completion of the flight trials from the carrier's deck marks a milestone in the life-cycle...of the MiG-29K/29KUB program."
First launched in 1985, the Admiral Kuznestov entered service in 1990 and became fully operational five years later. It takes its name from Nikolai Gerasimovich Kuznetsov, formerly the Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union. The MiG-29 made its first flight in 1977. Since then, it has spawned a huge number of variants, with some 1,600 examples built in all.