A maintenance repair and overhaul facility will be setup at Indian Naval Station INS Hansa in Goa over next few years to maintain the MiG 29K fighter aircraft based on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.
“The intermediate repair facility for the RD33 MK engines powering the MiG 29K aircraft will be built at a cost of Rs 200-300 crore ( US$30 million to US$45 million),” the ministry of defence officials were quoted as saying by Times of India Monday.
A few days earlier, the defence acquisition council (DAC) cleared the project and also approved for the repair facility to be built at the Dabolim-based naval base.
"The repair facility will be built in place of the current Sea Harrier MRO. With the phasing out of the Sea Harriers and the induction of the MiG 29K fighters we need a facility for the engines, since these aircraft will be in service for the next couple of decades,” a senior Indian Navy official said.
A Comptroller and Auditor General report had found that since induction, the aircraft were inducted in February 2010, 62% of the engines had faced critical issues due to "design-related defects". The serviceability of the warplanes was low, ranging from 21.30% to 47.14%, according to the report.
The Indian Navy decommissioned the British Sea Harrier jump jets, which served the Indian Navy since 1983, and has begun inducting the Russian MiG 29K frontline fighters. India has placed an order for 45 MiG 29 aircraft worth $2.2 billion in two separate orders, in 2004 and 2010, from Russia.
A squadron of MiG 29K fighter jets, the Black Panthers, operate from the decks of India's aircraft carrier Vikramaditya, which is based at Karwar. A squadron of MiG 29K aircraft, White Tigers, is also based at INS Hansa. The aircraft are shipped in semi-assembled state to Mormugao Port Trust and assembled by a team of engineers.
"There is no transfer of technology for the MiGs so there will be no joint partnership. A team from Russia will be based on site," a naval official said.
A team from Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG will operate the MRO. Public sector aviation unit Hindustan Aeronautics Limited had earlier proposed to setup an MRO at its Koraput unit for the RD33 MK engines.