August 7, 2012:
On July 29th
, off the north coast of Russia (Barents Sea) the Indian aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, experienced its first landing by a MiG-29K. The aircraft then took off using the carriers "ski jump" flight deck. Russian pilots were involved and Russia will also test their new Su-35 carrier fighter landing and taking off from the Vikramaditya. This is because this carrier is using the new STOBAR (short-takeoff-but-assisted recovery) system. STOBAR is simpler, and cheaper, to build and maintain than earlier catapult launch systems, which used a more robust assisted (with stronger arrestor wires) landing systems. The Vikramaditya will operate with 16 MiG-29K jets and twelve helicopters.
The INS Vikramaditya is undergoing sea trials which were delayed over a month by bad weather. Vikramaditya is the former Russian Gorshkov, which India paid over $2 billion to refurbish. Some of the Indian crew has been working with the Vikramaditya for over a year, learning about all the ship's systems and now most of the other 1,250 members of the crew are present. India will take possession of the INS Vikramaditya in December, after the successful completion of sea trials. This project is four years behind schedule and $1.5 billion over the original budget. It is a major cause of ill-will between Russia and India. This tension will get worse if delivery of the Vikramaditya is delayed into next year.