The Indian Navy plans to set up a second air base for it Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29K fighters at the east coast, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Devendra Kumar Joshi said to The Times of India.
Naval Air Station INS Dega in Vizag will be the preferred location, the admiral said. Currently 20 to 29 MiG-29Ks (NATO-name Fulcrum) form a squadron in Goa on the west coast of the country and provide the Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya of its main air combat element. The vessel is due to be commissioned on November 16th, 2013.
With India having ordered 45 MiG-29Ks, a third unit will stand up at INS Dega. They will fly alongside 17 Hawk Mk 132 advanced jet trainers to be based there.
A fourth MiG-29K unit will be formed for the INS Vikrant, a new aircraft carrier that is set to start operations in 2017.
Apart from the newer MiG-29Ks of the Indian Navy, the Indian Air Force flies 66 older MiG-29s. Those aircraft are being upgraded to MiG-29UPG. Most significant change is a new non-Russian avionics suite, a new Zhuk-ME Radar, a better engine and better weapons delivery. However the upgrading process goes fairly slow and will likely take at least until the end of 2014, 2015 or even 2016 to be completed.
Last week a 67th IAF MiG-29 with registration KB739 crashed near Jamnagar Air Base.
Source: The Times of India with additional reporting by AIRhead’s Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): An Indian Navy MiG-29KUB during sea trials (Image © Mikoyan Gurevich)