One of the more glamourous aspects of covering defence aerospace for Flightglobal is chasing public relations guys at the region's defence ministries. Earlier this week I was chasing India's ministry of defence for confirmation of reports that a MiG-29KUB had conducted the first touch and goes from the deck of the INS Vikramaditya, which is undergoing sea trials in the icy seas off Northern Russia.
They have yet to get back to me, so I'll keep chasing them. I decided to check Youtube in the hope that one of the Russian engineers aboard the ship had made a surreptitious video of the flight tests and uploaded it to Youtube. Regrettably no such skulduggery seems to be taking place.
I did, however, find a clip from May 2011 showing the MiG-29KUB performing flight tests from the Russian carrier Admiral Kuzntesov.
The Vikramaditya that India is buying is smaller than the Kuznetsov, and a heavily modified Kiev class ship. The Cold War era Kievs embarked a handful of the risible Yak-38 Forger and 20 Kamov helicopters, with the foredeck occupied by anti-surface and anti-aircraft missiles. It was designed to be a formidable warship even without the embarked aircraft.
The Kuznetsov is more like a US carrier, although it did pack some cool anti-surface missiles in vertical launch tubes beneath hatches under the flight deck. The Russians think of some really cool stuff.
Anyway, back to the Vikrmaditya. Mindef is probably not getting back to me because they want to do a big PR event when the first Indian pilot lands on the ship. Can't blame them: the Vikramaditya is a huge advance for Indian naval air, and the type of thing military PR guys love to play up. Sooner or later we'll be hearing a lot more about this ship.