Panaji: New-age fighter aircraft MiG29K was on Saturday commissioned ceremoniously into the Indian Navy in the presence of Defence Minister AK Antony at INS Hansa near in Panaji. The aircraft would be attached to aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, which would be commissioned later this year.
The MiG29K squadron - initially comprising of 16 aircraft - has been christened 'Black Panthers' and would be known by its naval name 'INAS 303'. The aircraft were inducted into the force in February 2010 and underwent rigorous trials before Saturday's commissioning, defence sources said.
During the ceremony, a pair of Sea Harriers (fighter aircraft attached to INS Vikrant) escorted a Mig29K during a fly-pass as they flew at the speed of 800 kms per hour. On the occasion , Antony said that commissioning of MiG29K would enhance India's defence preparedness and war-fighting capabilities. "Sea Lanes are our lifelines and we need to keep our adversaries away. These aircraft with multi-role capabilities will dominate the sky," the defence minister said.
Antony also said that Indian Navy's aviation wing, which is celebrating a diamond jubilee this year, needs to "introspect" and chart out roadmap for future. The Black Panther squadron, he said, will operate from INS Vikramaditya, which will be commissioned at the end of the year. "Flying this aircraft from Vikramaditya would be a real challenge," Anthony said. After the function, the minister inaugurated the simulator for MiG29K.
Navy officials said the defence minister flew through a simulator for half an hour and successfully 'landed' on Vikramaditya. MiG29K's arsenal of weapons includes advanced anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, precision bombs and a sophisticated system to support weapon delivery.