The Russian Northern Fleet’s press office reported that the crews of Mikoyan MiG-29K All-weather carrier-based multirole fighters have gone on experimental combat duty on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic for the first time. The experimental combat duty by pilots of the Northern Fleet’s Air Force and Air Defense Army on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago expands the area of employing the Fleet’s fighter aviation in the Arctic and increases the zone of controlled airspace over the Northern Sea Route. The replacement of the flight personnel and MiG-31BM fighters of a seperate composite aviation regiment took place at the Northern Fleet’s Rogachyovo airfield. They were replaced for the first time by pilots of deck-based MiG-29K fighters of the 100th shipborne aviation regiment of the Northern Fleet’s Air Force and Air Defense Army.
The Mikoyan MiG-29K (NATO reporting name: Fulcrum-D) is a Russian all-weather carrier-based multirole fighter aircraft developed by the Mikoyan Design Bureau. The MiG-29K was developed in the late 1980s from the MiG-29M. Mikoyan describes it as a 4+ generation aircraft. Production standard MiG-29Ks differ from prototypes in features such as a multi-function radar and several new cockpit displays; the adoption of HOTAS (hands-on-throttle-and-stick) controls; the integration of RVV-AE (also known as R-77) air-to-air missiles, along with missiles for anti-ship and anti-radar operations; and several ground/strike precision-guided weapons. The MiG-29K project was initiated in the late 1970s when the Soviet Navy developed a requirement for a supersonic carrier-based fighter. The MiG-29Ks first flight was performed on 23 July 1988 at Saky by test pilot Toktar Aubakirov.
The MiG-29K was not ordered into production and only two prototypes were originally built because the Russian Navy preferred the Su-27K (later re-designated Su-33) in the early 1990s. Mikoyan did not stop its work on the MiG-29K aircraft despite the lack of financing since 1992. The programme got a boost in the late 1990s to meet an Indian requirement for a ship-borne fighter following the purchase of a former Soviet aircraft carrier, and the MiG-29K was first received by the Indian Naval Air Arm in 2009. The Russian Navy, with their Su-33s nearing the end of their service lives by 2010, has also ordered the MiG-29K as a replacement. The MiG-29KUB two-seat variant took its first flight on 20 January 2007, followed by the MiG-29K on 25 June 2007. The RD-33MK turbofan engine was also engineered to reduce infrared signature and improve aircraft camouflage.
MiG-29K has a GSh-30-1 30 mm cannon in the port wing root. It has provisions for laser-guided and electro-optical bombs, as well as air-to-surface missiles like Kh-25ML/25MP, Kh-29T, Kh-31G/31A, Kh-35U, and rockets. Kh-31P passive radar seeker missiles are used as anti-radiation missiles. Kh-35, Kh-31A antiship missiles are for anti-ship roles; for aerial combat air-to-air missile like RVV-AE, R-27ER/ET and R-73E are fitted. The aircraft is also adaptable to various foreign weapons. The MiG-29K has a combination of low-observable technology, advanced electronic-warfare capabilities, reduced ballistic vulnerability, and standoff weapons to enhance the fighter’s survivability.[ According to Mikoyan, extensive use of radar-absorbent materials reduce the MiG-29K’s radar signature 4–5 times over the basic MiG-29.