India will start receiving the first carrier-based MiG-29K multi-role fighters from Russia in 2007, a year ahead of schedule.
The first batch of few MiG-29KUB would be delivered towards the middle of 2007, in time for Indian Navy to train the first batch of its pilots, a top official of Russian Aircraft building Corporation (RSK), the manufacturers of the MiG range of fighters, said.
He said that RSK would deliver Navy's entire order of 16 MiG-29K by 2009. The Russian team is here to finalise the training schedule for the Indian Naval pilots.
While the first batch of naval pilots would be trained in Russia, India is subsequently planning to operate the MiG-29K for training purposes from its shore-based Dabolim airbase in Goa.
Under a Rs 3,256 crore (740 million dollar) deal, signed in January, 2004, Navy is to acquire 12 MiG-29k Single seater combat aircraft and four two-seater MiG-29KUB operational trainers. The deal also includes airborne armaments, maintenance, personnel training, plus the supply of simulators, spare parts and servicing.
The naval version of the MiG-29 is yet to enter service and India would be the launch customer for the multi-role aircraft, which can operate from ski-jump platform. Russian officials said that the fighters would be fully operational by April, 2008, when the Carrier Gorshkov is scheduled to be delivered.