|An Indian Mig-29K on the deck of the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya|
By: Vivek Raghuvanshi
NEW DELHI — The Indian Navy is facing acute maintenance problems with the 45 Russian-made MiG-29K aircraft, which are the sole fighters on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, according a senior Indian Navy official.
“We (Indian Navy) want the MiG-29K aircraft to be ruggedized to carry out operations because landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier is almost like a hard landing and the fighter aircraft needs frequent maintenance,” the Navy official said.
“There are frequent structural defects due to deck landing,” the official added.
The service did not enter into a contract for automatic maintenance of the aircraft with the Russians while purchasing the MiG-29K fighter aircraft in 2004 and 2010 for $2.2 billion.
“Today they are fully dependent on Russia for all major support issues,” an Indian Ministry of Defence official said of the Navy. “The Indian MoD has taken up the matter with the Russians on several occasions. Though the Russians have sent their technical teams, no solution has been forthcoming.”
Arun Prakash, a retired Indian Navy admiral and former service chief, was more critical of the situation: “The truth is that the Indian Navy has virtually funded the development of this aircraft (which the Russian Navy is now adopting), and if the Russians had any ethics they would ensure that every shortcoming is fixed free of cost.”
According to the MoD official, state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is of little help in this situation: “Without approval of design authority, it is difficult to go in for any modification.”
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