Navy inducts its most modern fighters
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The Navy inducted its most modern fighter — the MiG-29 K — at a ceremony here on Friday but the fighting machines will remain landlocked for the next three years due to the massive delay in the Gorshkov aircraft carrier that was to arrive from Russia in 2008.
While six of the modern fighters — which the Navy says with some justification are even more advanced than the IAF's Su-30 MKI — have arrived in Goa and have been inducted into the Black Panthers squadron, they will remain confined to shore-based operations and training programme till 2013-14 when the aircraft carrier is finally expected to arrive.
The aircraft were inducted at a ceremony at the Hansa airbase by Defence Minister A K Antony in the presence of Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma.
While the Navy is trying to make the most of the aircraft and is even setting up a land-based training facility — complete with aircraft carrier style ski jump and arrestor wires — at the Hansa airbase, the fact remains that the fighters will spend one tenth of their flying life — they have a shelf life of 30 years — flying only from land.
"There is so much of flying that happens from shore. There is plenty to do: they will develop expertise, they will build tactical documentation and they will train from a standard runway," said Captain Surendra Ahuja, Commanding Officer of Hansa Naval Base where the fighters are being based.
Antony said the Navy would use the aircraft for training till the Gorshkov arrived. "The Navy will commence flying operations with these machines to their prescribed limits, train the crew, establish doctrines and be fully ready for operations as soon as the Gorshkov is commissioned," the minister added at the induction ceremony.
If things had gone as per plan, the fighters would have arrived within months of Gorshkov carrier being delivered in 2008. Then, the Navy would have got the next year or so to train from the carrier and would have been ready to embark on expeditionary missions by this year.