MiG 29K squadron base at Vizag soon, says Navy chief Joshi | TOI VISAKHAPATNAM: In a major boost for Vizag's naval air power, the Indian Navy is planning to set up a MiG 29K base at Naval Air Station INS Dega in the Port City, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Devendra Kumar Joshi said here on Wednesday. "The intention is to have air capabilities on both the Western and Eastern seaboards due to the growing security needs of the country. The first MiG 29K squadron has already been positioned on the Western seaboard at Goa and the next squadron will be based at INS Dega soon," the Naval chief told newspersons after the induction of the Hawk Mk 132 advanced jet trainer aircraft here on Wednesday, adding that some of the aircraft from the Goa squadron were last month sent to Vizag for training. While the frontline fighter MiG 29K will be operated from the deck of INS Vikramaditya, which is to be commissioned on November 16 and will be based on the West Coast, the Naval chief pointed out that the vessel would operate on the Eastern seaboard as well as and when required. However, the Navy plans to set up the base of aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, which is expected to be inducted into the Navy by 2017, at Visakhapatnam, he added. According to Admiral Joshi, naval aviation is poised for a major leap thanks to the new carriers that the Navy inducting. "The high performance supersonic jets of the future would require a trainer that qualifies a trainee pilot suitably and therefore the Hawk AJT has been inducted here. The first four aircraft have been inducted and remaining will be joining the present lot soon. All the 17 Hawk Mk 132 fighters will be based at INS Dega," he said. Elaborating on the Navy's acquisition of supersonic jets to cater to future needs, the Admiral said, the future generation trainer fleet would comprise high performance supersonic jets alongside MiG 29K. "We have urged HAL to expertise the productionization of light combat aircraft for Navy. The Navy is very anxiously and eagerly looking forward to operate indigenous fighters on the decks of our vessels," he said. Admiral Joshi said that another significant air capability that has been added to the Navy is the Boeing P-8I, a long range multi-mission maritime reconnaissance aircraft, that has again been vested with ENC. "The first aircraft is here and the induction trials are in progress. Another two P-8I aircraft will hopefully be inducted by the end of this year. The remaining aircraft will join the fleet next year. The censor and weapon fit on the board is comparable to the best. The P-8I has been inducted concurrently in the Indian Navy and the US Navy. The country now has the most contemporary of weapons and equipment fits," he said. Replying to a question about India's first nuclear submarine INS Arihant, the Navy chief said it was launched in 2010 and subsequent activities like outfitting, installation of various systems and sub systems were being presently carried out at the Port City. "The most important is the installation of the nuclear reactor for its propulsion plant and the nuclear power plant of the submarine attained criticality on August 10 this year. That was a significant milestone in the country's naval history as for the first time ever a nuclear propelled submarine plant attained criticality. Between the time it attains criticality and commences operations, a set of activities are in progress. A majority of the submarine's harbor trials have been completed successfully and we hope to commence sea trials soon, after which it will be commissioned," Admiral Joshi explained. While refusing to divulge the cause of the blaze at INS Sindhurakshak in Mumbai earlier this year, the Navy chief said that specific lessons to be learnt would only become apparent once the Navy has been able to complete the board of inquiry, which is still underway. He pointed out that subsequent to the tragedy, the Navy had put all its units through a thorough process of `safety standout' for a few days. "None of the assets were operated and a very thorough safety audit was carried out in all the submarines. There are no outstanding issues. Once the Indian Navy comes to know what specifically went wrong with INS Sindhurakshak, it will decide on what measures to be taken specifically after the completion of the board of inquiry," he explained.