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Navy carries out maiden night landing of MiG-29K on indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant

The Indian Navy on Thursday said, “This challenging night landing trial demonstrates the resolve, skill and professionalism of the Vikrant crew and the Naval pilots.” NEW DELHI: The country's indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant has moved one step closer to becoming fully operational as the Indian Navy crossed another important milestone by undertaking the maiden night landing of a MiG-29K aircraft on board the ship.

The Indian Navy on Thursday said, “This challenging night landing trial demonstrates the resolve, skill and professionalism of the Vikrant crew and the Naval pilots.” The whole process of establishing the compatibility between aircraft and ship along with the night landing within one year makes it a significant achievement.

INS Vikrant, the first indigenous aircraft carrier and the most complex warship ever built in the country by M/s Cochin Shipyard Ltd, was commissioned into the Indian Navy on September 2, 2022. ALSO READ | Har Shikhar Tiranga: Unique expedition launched to hoist tricolour at highest points of all states The carrier is presently undergoing Air Certification and Flight Integration Trials with Rotary Wing and Fixed Wing aircraft for achieving 'combat ready' state at the earliest.

As part of the trials, the maiden day landing of MiG-29K and the indigenous LCA (Navy) was achieved on February 6, 2023. Since then, day and night landing trials of all helicopters of the Indian Navy have progressed. This night landing on Wednesday is in continuation with the impetus on the aviation trials. “This challenging accomplishment, within three months of maiden day landing demonstrates the resolve, skill and professionalism of the Indian Navy, Vikrant crew and naval pilots," said a defence source. This entire process has been carried out indigenously by Indian Navy pilots and personnel on board the ship.

The 45,000 ton INS Vikrant with 76% indigenous content is the biggest warship ever designed and manufactured indigenously. It is 262.5 m long and 61.6 m wide and is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment/systems, designed for a crew of around 1,600 officers and sailors. The carrier is capable of operating an air wing consisting of 30 aircraft comprising MiG-29K fighter jets, Kamov-31, MH-60R multi-role helicopters, in addition to indigenously manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters and Light Combat Aircraft.

Aircraft carriers are floating air bases which extend the combat capability of the country. The Indian Navy has been pushing for three aircraft carriers so that India has at least one operational for both the east and west seaboards while the third goes for maintenance and repair. Currently, the Indian Navy has two aircraft carriers -- INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant -- in its inventory.

But INS Vikrant is yet to get fully operationalised. An aircraft carrier adds to the surge capability as fighter jets operating from land will always have their limitations. As reported earlier by The New Indian Express, keeping in mind the increased Chinese activities in the Indian Ocean, the country will have to extend air power into far-off areas like the Malacca Strait on one side and the Gulf of Aden on the other. With one aircraft carrier still under maintenance and one yet to be inducted, the Indian Navy will be operating without one for some more time.

This is the state of affairs when China has been successfully beating deadlines in adding to its military might. It started manufacturing its first aircraft carrier in 2012 and commissioned its third indigenous one, Fujian, in June 2022. China has become the biggest Navy with 355 warships and submarines while India’s total fleet strength is 130. “Keeping in mind our pace, even if we take a decision on the carrier today, it will take over a year to begin the process of manufacturing,” said a defence source. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)