Russian MIG-29K aircraft to be inducted in Navy
Panaji, Mar 28: As many as 17 advanced versions of the Russian MIG-29K aircraft would be inducted into the naval air squadron of Goa Command by next year.
After commissioning the indigenously built fast attack aircraft 'INS Bitra' at the naval jetty at Vasco-da-Gama city today, Rear Admiral Sanjay Vadgaokar, Flag Officer commanding Goa area told mediapersons here today that the Russian aircraft are meant for landing on the retrofitted Russian aircraft carrier-Adrmiral Gorshkov-being acquired for induction in 2010.
As of now, the INS Hansa has been operating the Sea Harriers which would be phased out on arrival of the Russian MIGs. The Gorshkov would be based either in Goa or Karwar naval base.
The Cochin shipyard was building yet another indigenous aircraft carrier-Air Defence Ship-for the Navy with the existing lone carrier INS Virat ageing.
Reacting to demand of certain politicians to shift the Goa naval base to neighbouring Karwar in Karnataka, he quipped, ''How is it possible to uproot the establishment with an asset base worth Rs 70,000 crore? We are not the people to decide.'' He said many slots were vacant for operation at the Dhabolim airport in Goa, now under the Indian Navy, and the 21 acre land offered two years ago by the Navy for extending the airport aprons by the Airport Authority of India has not yet been taken over.
Commissioning the INS Bitra, named after one of the islands of the Lakshadweep's archipelago, Rear Admiral Vadgaokar said it is fitted with 30 mm CRN-91 gun made by Medak ordnance factory in Andhra Pradesh with a maximum range of 4,000 metres that could be aimed at both surface and air targets.
In addition, the ship is armed with (IGLA-1M) shoulder-launched surface to air missiles, medium and light machine guns, besides various other small arms.
The ship, he said, is designed to carry a rigid inflatable boat and also a Gemini with 25 HP over board machine to operate at very rough sea states. Its crest depicts a seahorse, known for its ability to camouflage itself with the surroundings.
INS Bitra is the second ship of the follow-on class of fast attack crafts evolved from the Trinket class of ships, designed and built by the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE), Kolkata. This class of ships have so far been effectively utilised for the defence of Andaman and Nicobar group of islands.
The warship has the unique distinction of traversing from coast to coast, even before commissioning. It has called most of the major ports on both the Indian seaboards, cruising about 1,900 nautical miles before breaking the commissioning pennant on her mast today, he said.
More such ships would be acquired for the Indian Navy for defending the porous borders and checking piracy in the exclusive economic zone, besides engaging them in anti-poaching and rapid interception, leave alone search and rescue operations, he said.
On the occasion, GRSE Director Cdr Sri Kumar said the company was poised to make still advanced version of the naval crafts, with 35 knots speed and high powered turbines that could be delivered in 22 months and later two in every two months.
The company is gearing itself to advance the delivery schedules by 24 months, instead of 45 months for each vessel at present, he said.
Several naval officers, besides those from the military and Goa Shipyard Limited attended the commissioning ceremony.
Earlier, the FOC received the guard of honour at the naval jetty and inspected the parade as also the ship, after its commissioning skippered by Lt Cdr S Muthukumaran.