India's New-Old Carrier Goes to Sea

Let's start this week off with a newly released pictrue of India's new aircraft carrier, INS Vikramiditya, setting out from the Sevmash shipyard in Russia to conduct her first sea trials after a massive refit to get her ready for service with the Indian navy.

In a past life, Vikramiditya served in the Soviet and Russian navies as the Baku and Admiral Gorshov -- specifically, as an 'aircraft carrying cruiser', as the Russians called her. As such, she was armed with a mix of  P-550 Bazalt anti-ship cruise missiles, SA-9 Tor surface-to-air missiles and the vertical take-off and landing Yak-38 fighters before being retired in the 1990s.

The Indians have paid for her giant missile tubes to be removed from the bow-section of the ship, freeing up space for the installation of a ski-jump ramp and additional aircraft parking space, making her look very, very similar to China's new-old aircraft carrier, the ex Soviet-Varyag. She's slated to be handed over to the Indian navy later this year and once in service, she'll carry a mix o MiG-29Ks and Sea Harrier fighters, replacing the ancient British-made Viraat as India's carrier.

Like China, India plans to beef up its carrier forces by fielding two indigenous carrier designs in the coming decade . Unlike China, India has been operating aircraft carriers for decades, giving its navy a serious leg up on how to best use the ships. Remember, China is expected to spend years using the ex-Varyag to master the skills of carrier operations.

Click through the jump to see a pic of Vikramiditya during her Soviet days.

Via Alert 5.

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