To make a pitch for India’s carrier-based aircraft procurement program, the US-based Boeing has announced its plans to test its F/A-18 Super Hornet jet on a carrier ski-jump. This announcement came at the backdrop of Russia awaiting an order form India to supply its MiG-29K jets for the same program. So which one should India opt for – F/A-18 Super Hornets or MiG-29K jets? A EurAsian Times analysis
Currently, India operates just one carrier – a former Soviet vessel, Vikramaditya which embarks the MiG-29K fighters made by Russia. However, India’s second carrier, the first to be built in the country, is underway and can be commissioned by March 2021.
While Vikramaditya embarks a fleet of 45 MiG-29Ks, New Delhi wants to buy 57 new naval fighters to complement MiGs that would embark on the new indigenous carrier.
The latest news is that the Boeing F/A-18 has made a fresh entry to embark on India’s first indigenous carrier. Before the decision is made, the Boeing F/A-18 will be expected to be tested and certified for ski-jump operation. Thom Breckenridge, the Vice President of Being International Sales, during the Defexpo2020 Indian arms show, said, “Testing plans are underway. We will rigorously check our aircraft on the ski jump.”
As EurAsian Times reported earlier, the Russian aviation industry was quoted in the media saying, “Russia is waiting for a request from the Ministry of Defense of the Government of India for the delivery of the MiG-29K for the same.” Indian Defense Ministry hasn’t issued a tender yet for the supply of the deck-based fighter aircraft but in 2017, the Ministry had made a relevant inquiry regarding the same.
The arrival of Boeing has heated up the conversation around the fighters that Vikrant will embark on. The comparisons on several fronts between Boeing F/A-18 and MiG-29K have inevitably surfaced.