Mikoyan-Gurevich has started aircraft carrier flight testing of its series production version of the MiG-29K/KUB fighter. The tests are carried out on board the aircraft future home: the Russian Navy Admiral Kuznetsov. We got the photos from the tests, which were perfomed in September.
The Admiral Kuznetsov is the only aircraft carrier in the Russian Navy, serving with the Northern Fleet out of Murmansk. Mikoyan-Gurevich is contracted for the delivery of 20 MiG-29K single-seat and four MiG-29KUB two-seat fighter jets. Currently only Sukhoi Su-33s operate from the aircraft carrier.
The big difference between a normal MiG-29 and the K/KUB version is its foldable wings and better ground-/sea-attack capabilities. MiG put a new Zhuk-ME radar into the machine. Due to the nature of stronger forces on the airframe during carrier operations the aircraft manufacturer also strengthened the airframe and put on a strong tail-hook for the cable-arrested landings on board the aircraft carrier.
Like the American navy the MiG-29K/KUB is capable to execute so-called buddy-refueling, meaning it can provide other MiG-29s in the air of extra fuel. An aircraft carrier is to small for a proper tanker aircraft and by using refueling pods underneath the wing the carrier air unit is capable to operate on longer distance or stay aloft longer without the need of Air Force assets jumping in.
Russia is not the only country using the MiG-29K/KUB. India bought the aircraft to fly from its INS Vikramaditya, the aircraft carrier that Russia will hand over to the Indian Navy in mid-November.
Source: Mikoyan-Gurevich / Indian Navy