India’s first aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya is likely to start sailing next week as the major refit that it has been undergoing at Karwar Naval Base over the last 15 months has been completed.
This will be followed by extensive sea trials after which the 45,000-ton aircraft carrier will be handed over to the Indian Navy by March 31 and the MiG-29K fighter operations will start in April 2023, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.
INS Vikramaditya is expected to move to the outer anchorage of Karwar Naval Base powered by its own engines and will start sea trials between Goa and the home port, INS Kadamba, in March, the report cited officials as saying.
While the air operations will begin in April, various checks of armaments and surface-to-air missile systems onboard will begin in March itself.
The LCA landing on INS Vikramaditya.@DRDO_India @indiannavy pic.twitter.com/OVIyLo2S5W
— रक्षा मंत्री कार्यालय/ RMO India (@DefenceMinIndia) January 11, 2020
The aircraft carrier will give the Indian Navy added punch with 26 MiG-29K fighters and 10 Kamov Ka-31 advance electronic warning (AEW) and Ka-28 anti-submarine warfare helicopters on board.
Hanger of INS Vikramaditya pic.twitter.com/xFyF0HKOWU
— SSR (@singhshwetabh71) August 27, 2020
Following the retrofit, The Indian Navy is set to deploy two fully-fit aircraft carriers, the other being INS Vikrant, which is currently undergoing sea trials. Once deployed the two carriers–one for the western seaboard along the Arabian Sea and the other in the Bay of Bengal—will add considerable maritime firepower in the Indo-Pacific region. This assumes significance at a time when China is increasing its naval presence in the region.
Mig29K and Naval LCA fighter jets landing and taking off from #INSVikrant (R11), India's 1st indigenous aircraft carrier
Meanwhile #INSVikramaditya (R33) is also getting ready to get back on its deployments.#IADN pic.twitter.com/FEdlC09ppF
— Indian Aerospace Defence News (IADN) (@NewsIADN) February 9, 2023
According to the Hindustan Times, while INS Vikrant will be based in Visakhapatnam on the country’s eastern seaboard, INS Vikramaditya will operate on the western seaboard.
The Narendra Modi government has already initiated the process to acquire fighter jets for INS Vikrant with the choice being narrowed down to the French Rafale-M and the US F-18.
The government on the basis of the Navy’s recommendation will purchase 26 fighters on a government-to-government basis, which includes eight twin-seated trainers.
Also Read: US-France competition heats up for fighter jets to deck INS Vikrant