MiG-29’s exercising aboard INS Vikramaditya

Last year India commissioned its latest aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya.

She was converted from a Kiev class vessel of the former Soviet navy.  The Indian Navy operates MiG-29K fighter aircraft from the ship.  They’re launched with the aid of a ski-jump ramp on her bow (rather than catapult-launched as in the US Navy), but land using conventional arresting gear.

This video clip shows Russian-piloted MiG-29K’s operating from the ship during its testing and working-up period last year.  Of particular interest is the small size of the ship compared to US Navy aircraft carriers.  Note the comparative sizes of the aircraft and the ship.  The MiG-29K is only a little smaller than the US Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (i.e. less than 10% smaller in critical dimensions), but it clearly has relatively little room to move about on the Vikramaditya’s flight deck.  In contrast, video clips of the US Navy aircraft maneuvering aboard its carriers shows they have much more room available.

Watch the video in full-screen mode for best results.

I’ll be interested to see whether Indian Navy fighter pilots, who’ll have the opportunity to train with US Navy ships and perhaps fly with their US counterparts, find that the smaller size of their carrier imposes any restrictions on their operations.  For example, severe weather might make it almost impossible to maneuver safely, as aircraft will tend to slide on the deck if it’s pitching and rolling heavily.



  1. Say- anything to his report of Nightwatch and looking glass launches yesterday? Is the balloon about to go up? Supposedly subhunters flying around in the hurricane right now, and this huge Russian evacuation drill of their cities? All started yesterday?

  2. Interesting that nobody checked the beer cans once the wings folded down, and they are going to be dependant on wind over the bow for launch conditions to be met. Also, no foul line due to dual use of the aft portion of the deck, means you can't stage next launch while landing the first launch. Probably limited to 40 acft or less…

  3. I also noticed not being able to stage the next aircraft since you've got to run the entire deck at launch. Also, doesn't look like you can get wind straight across the bow given the indicated launch tracks on the deck.

    And the elevators look like they are sized for single aircraft.

    Regardless, always nice to see flight ops.

  4. Anon 2:18: E-6 and E-4s performing Nightwatch and Looking Glass missions fly pretty much every day. Yesterday was no different. Wednesday night through Thursday or thereabouts US Strategic Command will likely be running a "Skymaster" exercise. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary.

    All that said the establishment of both parties seem bound and determined to antagonize and get us into a war with the Russians. All the more reason to vote Trump. Hopefully he'll clean out these warmongering lunatics in the Deep State before they get us into yet another pointless war.

    As a child of the Cold War it's positively surreal to find myself rooting for the Russians. The world's gone crazy.

    As for those rehabbed Soviet carriers, I think most familiar with carrier ops come to the conclusion they're pretty limited in their abilities. They don't carry the numbers of aircraft or have the space for the intense operations a U.S. CVN would have. A step up from a U.S. amphibious ship operating harriers but nothing approaching a proper carrier. U.S.carriers, especially operating in pairs, can generate an impressive number of aircraft for offensive missions even while providing fleet protection.

  5. I think if I was running the Indian Fleet, I'd have auxiliary aircraft storage/repair ships accompanying that fliptop. Similar, or smaller, size ships, with comparable speed, and long reach cranes to drop aircraft onto that flightdeck while it's running at launch speed. You have supply ships servicing a flattop, why not one more type?

    The cranes might be considered backups to another type of transfer: A bridge/ramp at the bow of the AAS/R, to roll them right onto the fantail of the carrier. Some sort of track system to keep the aircraft secure during the move, and large underwater stabilizers at the bow to keep the bow ramp matched to the carrier's stern as closely as possible. Yeah, it sounds funky, but it could effectively enlarge the capacity of the carrier to the limits of launch time restraints on an op. Weather and sea state will have an impact on flight capabilities, of course, but that is a given with smaller carriers like that anyway.

    With several of these AAS/R ships available, you could designate one as an emergency landing zone, with a flat deck and a barrier system, or even a one or two cable landing system. Saving the occasional crew, and aircraft, might be worth the expense of adding this. Hmm, this might be required due to the much increased ability to put lots of aircraft into the air in a relatively short timeframe. Alright, they might all need to be able to land aircraft to make the system function at full capacity. Shame they haven't figured out how to catapult aircraft. A fleet full of jeep carriers has survival benefits. I'd rather have a fleet with lots of possible targets, than one large target in the center, like we do now.

  6. Will…India doesn't have the tech or shipbuilding capability to do an entirely new class of ship, nearly or just as complicated as an aircraft carrier…they have to buy those, what makes you think they can design and build another, even MORE specialized ship? They would be better off just commisioning the Russians to build them sisters to INS Vikramaditya.

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