India’s newest aircraft carrier — INS Vikramaditya — is underway on an operational deployment, according to the new head of the Indian Navy said on Wednesday.
“The Navy has inducted aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya which is now operationally deployed with MiG— 29K aircraft embarked and being flown by Indian naval pilots,” Adm. Robin Dhowan told reporters.
Local press reported the carrier has taken part in wargames with India’s western fleet.
The former Russian Navy Kiev-class carrier was acquired for $2.33 billion over a decade of starts and stops and cost increases.
Vikramaditya — the former Admiral Gorshkov — sailed in the Russian Navy from 1987 to 1995. The 44,5000 ton ship fields 34 aircraft, including 21 MiG-29Ks.
The Russian version of the carrier was designed with a formidable array of offensive weaponry, unlike American carriers which rely on their accompanying battle group for their defenses.
However, Vikramadityais sailing with out air defense guns, which will be installed in the carrier’s first refit, according to reports.
em>Vikramaditya is India’s second carrier joining the 50 year-old carrier INS Viraat — the former British carrier Hermes eventually — and a Indian-built carrier scheduled to enter the fleet in 2017