New Delhi: The problems faced by the MiG-29K maritime combat aircraft in carrying out operations and the related to the maintenance of the fleet were discussed by India and Russia during the meeting of the two defence ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Sergei Shoigu at the south block here. 

The Indian Navy's only fighter aircraft MiG-29K continues to face problems as the maritime force feels that the fighter jet needs to be further ruggedised for carrying out operations from aircraft carriers which are supposed to be its main role.

"The maintenance and other issues related to the plane have been improved in the recent past but it is felt that the plane needs to be ruggedised further. The problems need to be addressed as the aircraft are under warranty period and the Russians have to help in addressing them," senior sources in the Navy told MyNation.

The Navy operates the MiG-29Ks from its Goa air base as well as the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and after the phasing out of the Sea Harrier planes, it is now the only fighter aircraft left with the Navy.

Image may contain: 5 people, people standing, suit and outdoor

The top leadership of the Navy including the senior Vice Admiral-rank officers had personally requested the defence minister Sitharaman to take up the issue with the Russian side during her visit to Moscow earlier this year, and she had taken it up strongly there with the officials concerned. 

Issues faced by Mig-29K in Indian Navy

The fighter plane, which is operated only by India has faced operational deficiencies for a long time due to defects in engines, airframe and fly-by-wire system leading to very low availability for operations as this was pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor General (GAG) in its 2016 report.

"The MiG-29K, which is a carrier-borne multi-role aircraft and the mainstay of integral fleet air defence, is riddled with problems relating to the airframe, RD MK-33 engine, and fly-by -wire system," the CAG had said.

The serviceability of the warplanes was low, ranging from 15.93 % to 37.63 % and that of MiG-29KUB ranging from 21.30 % to 47.14 %. Serviceability refers to the total number of aircraft available for operation at a time from the overall capacity. The auditor had also noted that the service life of the aircraft is 6000 hours or 25 years (whichever is earlier) and with issues facing the MiG-29K/KUB, the operational life of the aircraft already delivered would be reduced. India ordered 45 MiG-29K aircraft and equipment worth Rs 10,000 crore in two separate orders - in 2004 and 2010 - from Russia.