India is getting serious about getting into the power-projection business:
India has signed deal to purchase an aircraft carrier and 12 fighter jets from Russia, after nearly a decade of negotiations. The deal also comes as India strengthens ties with the United States.
Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes hailed the $1.6 billion deal as a momentous step in India’s long relationship with Russia. “This is a historic occasion, which,” he said, “constitutes a major landmark in India-Russia cooperation, in the military-technical field, and a reaffirmation of our strategic relations.”
Under the deal, India is buying the Admiral Gorshkov, a refurbished Russian aircraft carrier, and 12 MiG 29-K fighter jets. India will take delivery of the aircraft carrier by 2008.
While not up to the standards of a US Nimitz-class carrier, the Gorshkov is still a serious carrier, capable of carrying 24 attack aircraft. India already had a VTOL-type carrier, but both the planes and ship are far less effective than the potential offered by Gorshkov.
Interesting to see is how the naval-variant MiG-29K will work out. The Russians have never before built such an ambitious plane, and naval aviation is a tough beast to master. Perhaps indicative is that India agreed to buy only a dozen of them, when the Gorshkov will carry twice that many.
We might just get another customer for the F-35N somewhere down the road.
UPDATE: I stand corrected. The carier version is the F-35C, not N. I’d assumed the Navy would follow the same nomenclature used for the F-4, way back when.