For the first time, the MiG-29K fighter aircraft undertook night landing on indigenously-built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, a feat described by the Indian Navy as a “historic milestone”.
The Navy said the “challenging” night landing trial demonstrated the resolve, skill and professionalism of the crew of the INS Vikrant and the naval pilots.
The night landing of the Russian-origin MiG-29K took place on Wednesday night when the ship was sailing in the Arabian Sea.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated the Indian Navy for the successful maiden night landing trials of MiG-29K on INS Vikrant. “Congratulations to the Indian Navy for successfully undertaking the maiden night landing trials of MiG-29K on #INSVikrant. This remarkable achievement is a testimony to the skills, perseverance and professionalism of the Vikrant crew and Naval pilots. Kudos to them,” Singh tweeted.
In a statement, the Navy said the aircraft carrier is presently undergoing “air certification and flight integration trials” with rotary wing and fixed wing aircraft for achieving a “combat ready” state at the earliest.
“As part of the trials, the maiden day landing of MiG-29K and the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (Navy) was achieved on February 6. Since then, day and night landing trials of all helicopters in the Naval inventory have progressed,” it said. “In continuation with the impetus on the aviation trials, the Navy has achieved another historic milestone by undertaking the maiden night landing of MiG-29K on May 24,” the Navy said.
It said this “challenging accomplishment” within three months of the maiden day landing demonstrates the resolve, skill and professionalism of the Indian Navy, Vikrant crew and the Naval pilots.
The Navy said INS Vikrant is a “big boost” to the Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) vision of the government. In February, Russian-origin MiG-29K and a prototype of the Naval variant of the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas jets had conducted day landings on the aircraft carrier. In September last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned Indias first indigenously-built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant that made the country part of an elite group of nations capable of manufacturing aircraft carriers above 40,000 tonnes category.
The Navy had said the aircraft carrier would be able to play a role in ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Built at a cost of around Rs 23,000 crore, INS Vikrant has a sophisticated air defence network and anti-ship missile systems.
It has the capacity to hold 30 fighter jets and helicopters.
At the commissioning ceremony of the vessel, Prime Minister Modi called it a “floating city” and that it is a reflection of India becoming self-reliant in defence. The night landing of the MiG-29K aircraft came as part of flight trials onboard the aircraft carrier.
The INS Vikrant has over 2,300 compartments, designed for a crew of around 1700 people, including specialised cabins to accommodate women officers.
It has a top speed of around 28 knots and a cruising speed of 18 knots with an endurance of about 7,500 nautical miles.
The ship is 262 metres long, 62 metres wide and it has a height of 59 metres.
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