21 December 2011 By Vladimir Karnozov - Flight Global
With work on the Indian navy's future aircraft carrier the INS Vikramaditya now 90% complete, an RSK MiG-29K fighter has been placed aboard the vessel for the first time.
Pictured on the carrier's deck at the Sevmash dockyard in Severodvinsk, northern Russia during November, aircraft Side 311 was deployed using a crane to serve as a mock-up only.
According to Sevmash, the Vikramaditya will start sea trials in May 2012, with these to involve take-offs and landings using two industry-owned aircraft. One is a purpose-built MiG-29K, while the other is a MiG-35D two-seat demonstrator now being modified after the crash of a MiG-29KUB trainer during trials in 2011.
Originally introduced to service with the Russian navy in 1987 as the Baku, but deactivated in 1992, the modified Vikramaditya now features a "ski-jump" ramp and three arrestor wires to support fighter operations. New Delhi's total investment in the ship is worth around $2 billion, with Sevmash expecting it to be commissioned into service on 4 December 2012 - Indian navy day.
Russia has so far delivered 11 of the 16 MiG-29K/KUBs ordered for the Indian navy under a 2003 deal worth $530 million, with the remainder due to be shipped to Goa before the end of 2011.
India also this year firmed up an option for 29 more navalised MiG-29s to equip its future homegrown aircraft carriers.