The Indian Navy will replace its Sea Harrier fighter aircraft with a new squadron of MiG-29K planes on May 11.
The Indian Navy currently flies both Sea Harriers and Mig-29K aircraft. The Sea Harriers will be replaced at a formal ceremony at its naval station in Goa after which it will be only MiG-29Ks that will be flying with the Indian Navy.
On 20 January 2004, the Indian Navy signed a contract for 12 single-seat MiG-29K and 4 two-seat MiG-29KUB.
The MIG-29 KUB (two-seat trainer) is similar to the MIG-29K but with reduced operational range. The aircraft will be fielded on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.
The fighter plane is different from the MiG-29 flown by Indian Air Force.The aircraft has been modified for aircraft carrier operation by hardening the undercarriage. It also has much better ‘over-the-nose’ vision to make it easy to land aboard a carrier at a high angle of attack.
Modifications made for Indian Navy requirement featured Zhuk-ME radar, RD-33MK engine, combat payload up to 5,500 kg, 13 hardpoints (inclusive of the multi-lock bomb carriers), additional fuel tanks situated in dorsal spine fairing and wing LERXs, increased total fuel capacity by 50 per cent comparing to first variant of MiG-29 and an updated 4-channel digital fly-by-wire flight control system.
With special coatings, the MiG-29K radar reflecting surface is 4–5 times smaller than of basic MiG-29. Cockpit displays consist of wide HUDs, 3 colour LCD MFDs (7 on the MiG-29KUB), a French Sigma-95 satellite GPS module and Topsight E helmet-mounted targeting system compatible with the full range of weapons carried by the MiG-29M and MiG-29SMT.
A mid-life upgrade to in 1999 for Sea Harriers aircraft was cancelled when the decision was made to purchase MiG-29K air defence fighters, to be deployed aboard the INS Vikramaditya. The Sea Harriers are armed with the Matra Magic-II AAM and the Sea Eagle Anti-ship missiles. The aircraft were upgraded with the Elta EL/M-2032 radar and the Rafael Derby BVRAAM missiles.