A Russian-built fighter jet has made the first landing on the INS Vikramaditya as part of comprehensive sea trials the aircraft carrier is undergoing ahead of its induction in the Indian Navy later this year.

A MiG-29KUB two-seat naval fighter jet landed on the Vikramaditya’s deck for the first time on Saturday after performing several touch-and-go approaches in the Barents Sea in the Russian Arctic, the Interfax news agency reported quoting a Russian defence industry source. The jet, built for India, was piloted by Russian Navy test-pilots Colonel Nikolai Diorditsa and Mikhail Belyaev.

The former Soviet Admiral Gorshkov heavy aviation cruiser, rechristened Vikramaditya, has been extensive refurbished and upgraded to a light aircraft carrier at the Sevmash shipyard in the Russian city of Severodvinsk under a $2.3 billion contract with India. It had its flight deck extended and turned into a full runway with a ski jump and arrestor wires.

A MiG-35 jet will also be used for landings and take-offs from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier to test its new short-takeoff-but-assisted recovery (STOBAR) system.

The Vikramaditya is to be handed over to India in December. It will carry 16 MiG-29K fighter jets, which Russia delivered to India last year, and about a dozen Russian-built Kamov helicopters.

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