Moscow: The first four of 16 Russian-made MiG-29K/KUB fighter jets, purchased by India as the air complement for the upgraded Admiral Gorshkov (INS Vikramaditya) aircraft carrier, will be delivered to the Indian Navy in October this year, reports quoting Indian defence sources say.
The 'K' series aircraft are navalised versions of the MiG-29 fighters currently in service with the Indian Air Force. While the MiG-29K designation refers to a single-seat version the MiG-29KUB refers to a two-seater, which are primarily trainers.
India had contracted for the supply of 12 single-seat MiG-29Ks and four two-seat MiG-29KUBs to India as part of a $1.5 billion deal to deliver the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, currently being retrofitted in Russia for the Indian Navy in a deal signed on 20 January 2004.
The carrier part of the deal has since run into rough weather over cost escalations.
"The aircraft are expected to arrive in mid-October. They will be assembled and tested in flight. After that they will be put in service," the defence source has been quoted as saying.
With the Admiral Gorshkov still undergoing overhauls, and delivery not expected to be made before 2012 at the earliest, the MiG aircraft will remain shore-based.
The two MiG-29Ks and two MiG-29KUBs were officially transferred to India in Russia earlier this year, where they were inspected by Indian experts and used in a five-month flight training course for Indian pilots.
As for the Admiral Gorshkov overhaul, Russia and India are still negotiating a new deal with latest reports emanating from Russia suggesting a new agreement would very likely be signed in October this year.
Under the original 2004 contract, work on the aircraft carrier was to have been completed in 2008. However, Russia later claimed it had underestimated the scale and the cost of the modernization, and asked for an additional $1.2 billion, which New Delhi dubbed as being "exorbitant."
An Indian offer in 2008, to raise refit costs by up to $600 million, was rejected by Russia as being inadequate. The ship has been docked at the Sevmash shipyard in northern Russia for the past 12 years.
Post- modernization, the Gorshkov is expected to provide useful service for 30 years.