India's MiG-29KUB makes its debut

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New Delhi gets first glimpse of future strike asset

RSK MiG conducted the debut flight of the Indian navy's first MiG-29KUB carrier-based multirole fighter on 20 January, before presenting the two-seat aircraft to the service's project team at Ramenskoye aerodrome two days later at the start of joint manufacturer/customer trials.

India placed a $720 million order for 12 single-seat MiG-29Ks and four MiG-29KUBs in January 2004, plus 30 options, and signed a separate armaments deal the following year. The fleet will operate from the navy's future INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier, and is also planned to be the main fixed-wing aircraft to operate from the service's planned two or three air defence ships.

 
© Vladimir Karnozov   

The Indian navy will get four two-seat KUBs as part of a 16-aircraft deal

The first carrier-based two-seat MiG ever built, the MiG-29KUB has additional slats that retract into its wing roots and provide increased lift while landing. India's specification calls for the aircraft to have a per-hour operating cost 2.5 times lower than Russia's two earlier experimental MiG-29Ks, while also offering twice the airframe life. The platform's two Klimov RD-33MK engines are also to have an operating life of 4,000h and a 1,000h time between overhaul.

RSK MiG says the first production MiG-29K will be rolled out in February or March this year, with all 16 Indian aircraft to be put together in a new assembly shop at its Lukhovitsy site south of Moscow.

India's MiG-29K/KUBs will be equipped with Phazotron-NIIR Zhuk-M multimode radars, offering a detection range of up to 130km (70nm) against fighter-sized targets. Pilots will use Thales TopSight helmet-mounted sights and will also be able to see a combined radar, thermal imaging and digital map picture in real time on the aircraft's head-up and multifunctional displays.