MiG-29K taking off from INS Vikramaditya.
Photo: Oleg Perov
The controversial sea trials of
the INS Vikramaditya in Russia, initially described as an embarrassing failure,
appear to have actually been a success, while propulsion problems developed by
the aircraft carrier are not nearly as serious as reported in the
After the ship returned to
the Sevmash shipyard a week ago the Indian Navy’s overseeing team, who closely
monitored the sea trials, came to the conclusion that the ship had overall done
extremely well and the programme of tests had been largely fulfilled.
of the trials were analysed and remaining work was detailed in a protocol signed
by Vice Admiral Nadella Niranjan Kumar, Controller Warship Production and
The main conclusion from the trials is that the INS
Vikramaditya has stood the test as a full-fledged highly capable aircraft
carrier converted from the former hybrid missile-cum-aviation cruiser Admiral
Gorshkov. The ship displayed excellent seaworthiness and manoeuvrability and
performed flawlessly during aircraft takeoff and landing. It’s sophisticated
radio-electronic, navigation and other systems demonstrated high efficiency and
The malfunctioning of the boilers that occurred during
high-speed tests will not require their replacement or removal from the vessel.
The problem has been pinned down to insulation lining that is placed between the
boiler steel casing and ceramic firebricks. Traditional asbestos lining was not
used at the request of Indian specialists and replacement material developed
slight deformation when the boilers were run at full power, causing some
firebricks to fall out. The Indian side has now agreed to the use of asbestos
The boiler problem did not prevent the INS Vikramaditya
from completing the trials. Informed sources toldThe
Hinduthat Indian Navy
officers were particularly impressed by the flight programme. A MiG-29K and a
MiG-29KUB 4++ generation fighters performed 41 impeccable take-offs and landings
with full arms payload and additional fuel tanks. The combination of Russia and
India-made optical and electronic landing systems enabled the Russian pilots in
70 percent of the landings to hook the second out of three arrestor wires, which
is considered a perfect result, the sources said.
vessel also displayed superior manoeuvrability, performing a 360-degree turn at
a minimum radius equal to one-and-a-half hull length at a speed of 18 knots.
Apart from the boilers, defects
were also detected in some other equipment, such as refrigerators, nitrogen
generators and compressors sourced from German, British, Polish and Indian
suppliers who had been picked by the Indian side.
Russian shipbuilders have promised to complete all repairs
by the beginning of next year, but since pre-delivery trials in the White Sea
can resume only in late May, when sea ice melts away, the Vikramaditya will be
handed over to the Indian Navy next autumn instead of this December, the sources