Defence Minister AK Antony in the
simulator of a MiG-29K after commissioning INAS 303 at INS
Hansa in Goa on May 11, 2013.
Dabolim (Goa): Defence
Minister A. K. Antony Saturday commissioned Indian Naval Air
Squadron (INAS) 303, the navy's first MiG 29K fighter squadron, at
INS Hansa here, saying India has to maintain an edge over its
adversaries in defence preparedness.
He said defence prparedness has to be enahnced through acquisition
of new technology and better training of the personnel given that
the securty scenario in the region was changing at rapid pace.
Antony said he was confident that the squadron "will make a
significant contribution in enhancing peace and stability in our
area of operations".
He said it would also provide effective safeguards for unhindered
economic development of the country and other friendly nations in
the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
To be deployed on the INS Vikramaditya, which is currently
undergoing sea trials in Russia after an extensive refit and which
is to be inducted later this year, the MiG-29K carries enough
punch to simultaneously undertake air dominance and power
projection missions and bestowes great flexibility on the
commander at sea.
It is a state-of-the-art, all-weather fighter especially built for
the Indian Navy. It has a maximum speed over 2,000 kmph (twice the
speed of sound), can pull up to eight times the force of gravity
and climb to an altitude of over 65,000 feet.
Equipped with arsenal comprising some of the most sophisticated
weapons in the world, it can engaging targets in the air, at sea,
or on land.
It is also equipped with latest avionics and has air-to-air
refueling capability which extends its range for "true power
projection and air space dominance roles.
INAS 303 is commanded by Capt A. D. Theophilus, an accomplished
and experienced Sea Harrier pilot and a qualified flying
Since their induction in 2010, the MiG 29Ks have flown over 2,500
hours and have successfully concluded armament trials of the
entire range of arsenal comprising air-to-surface missiles,
air-to-air missiles, bombs, rockets and guns.
The aircraft have also participated in theatre-level exercises
with the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force.
The squadron has been christened the ‘Black Panthers'. The number
303 has been derived from the revolutionary .303 rifle cartridge,
which in the mid-19th century replaced the traditional
lever-action cartridges with pointed-tip bullets, giving them a
ballistic advantage over their counterparts.
The squadron's insignia depicts the rare Black Panther, rampant on
sea waves, against an azure background.
The defence minister also inaugurated a state-of-the-art full
mission simulator which will enable pilot training across the
range of aircraft capabilities, including carrier take-offs and
landings, combat missions and even air-to-air refuelling.
"After flying a 25-minute sortie, Antony was impressed with the
immersive realism of the simulator," a defence ministry release
Antony also visited the shore-based test facility (SBTF) being
built for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Navy by the Aircraft
The SBTF, which replicates the aircraft carrier environment
ashore, includes a ramp for short take off and arrester wires for
Antony was shown the facility, which will be inaugurated in a few
months. Once inaugurated it will serve both the LCA Navy as well
as MiG29K for both testing and training purposes.