Although Russia has made commitments to upgrade, reduce prices, and a few other incentives, the Indian Ministry of Defense is still determined to close the era of the MiG-29K fighter.
The Indian Navy has shown that it will choose the French-made Rafale-M as a new generation fighter to replace the Russian MiG-29K. The race for a new generation fighter for the Indian Navy’s domestic aircraft carrier has come to an end, when the French-built Rafale-M proved to have a great advantage over the US F/A-18E/F as well as the Russian MiG-29K.
The Indian Ministry of Defense has called for a tender to purchase a new generation of fighter jets for its own domestically designed aircraft carrier – the INS Vikrant, which can be completed in the very near future. According to the Hindustan Times, the Indian Naval Aviation Command made the decision to choose the fighter to join the combat formation of the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, as soon as the ship completes sea trials and officially put into operation.
According to Hindustan Times, the French Rafale-M fighter has edged out the American F/A-18 Super Hornet in a direct competition to equip the Indian Navy with 26 new deck-based fighters for the country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant. Both aircraft performed well in testing at the ground test facility at the INS Hansa base in Goa, which completely replicates the deck of the new aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.
The Indian Air Force already operates two squadrons of the Rafale fighter, and if the navy also orders the maritime version of the same fighter, there will be commonality of spares and maintenance. The 26 fighters that the navy plans to buy are only a stopgap until the country develops its own twin-engine deck-based fighter. The Navy is preparing a draft cabinet for the design and development of a domestic carrier-based fighter for its aircraft carriers. Of course this takes a lot of time.
Like INS Vikramaditya, the fighters on board INS Vikrant will also use the ski-jump to take off and will be recovered by arrestor wires or what is known as STOBAR in navy parlance. The Vikramaditya operates Russian origin MiG-29K fighters. The Rafale-M was recognized as the preferred choice, meeting the requirements and operational criteria of the Indian Navy compared to the F/A-18 Super Hornet.
New Delhi decided not to put its trust in the MiG-29K anymore after the fighter showed many disadvantages in terms of tactical characteristics compared to its Western rivals, as well as its reliability. Although Russia has made commitments to upgrade, reduce prices, and a few other incentives, the Indian Ministry of Defense is still determined to close the era of the MiG-29K fighter.