Pinaki Bhattacharya
07:36 AM, April 18, 2015

The MiG-29K carrier-borne fighter aircraft have commenced flight operations from the deck of India's INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier.

The aircrafts had been operating from the Shore Based Test Facility of INS Hansa, on the coast of Goa in western India, this was stated by an Indian Naval officer during a media briefing earlier this week.

Vikramaditya, meanwhile, is in Karwar naval base in Karnataka on the western seabord, for getting kitted out with Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs) that were long in coming. A project of the Israelis, these SAMs – Barak missiles - is a shield for the carrier in terms of threats from air. These missiles are being cannibalised from the Godavari class destroyer that are being decommissioned.

Since its deployment in early-2014, the aircraft carrier had been scouring the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean in an area, which remains classified.

Indian Navy’s latest stealth destroyer, INS Vishakhapatnam, will be launched on 20 April. The first of the P-15B series, this ship is a guided missile destroyer armed with Brahmos cruise missiles, a senior navy official.

The briefing on the Kolkata-class destroyer that is being launched was not clear whether Vishakhapatnam will constitute the flotilla of the new-fangled carrier.

The stealth destroyer, by itself will be a formidable weapons platform with Indigenous Rocket Launcher for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) built by an Indian private sector corporate; indigenous torpedo tube launcher for ASW by the same company; a combat management system manufactured by Bharat Electronics (BEL); a foldable hangar door for helicopters; Close-in Weapon System (CIWS) by Gun and Shell factory of Ichhapore in West Bengal alongwith BEL; Boat Davits (a mechanical system for lowering boats in the waters); Integrated Power Management System; Bow Mounted System; and Early Warning System.

The main gun of the destroyer is AK-630 Vempyle. To enhance the stealth features of the ship, a conformal radar system has been built and emplaced. The total cost of the stealth destroyer programme, P-15B, being built at Mazagon Docks will cost Rs 29,000 crores ($4.6 Billion).

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