Landing on an aircraft carrier is one of the most difficult tasks a naval pilot ever has to do. The flight deck only has about 500 feet (approx.150 meters) of runway space, out of which about 300-odd feet are usable for landing planes.
This is not nearly enough for heavy, high-speed naval jets.
To enable a smooth and safe landing on the flight deck of an aircraft carriet then, each aircraft needs a tailhook, which is an extended hook attached to the plane’s tail.
The pilot’s goal is to snag the tailhook on one of four arresting wires, sturdy cables woven from high-tensile steel wire.
The arresting wires are stretched across the deck and are attached on both ends to hydraulic cylinders below deck.
If the tailhook snags an arresting wire, it pulls the wire out, and the hydraulic cylinder system absorbs the energy to bring the plane to a stop.
The arresting wire system can stop a 54,000-pound aircraft travelling 150 miles per hour in only two seconds, in a 315-foot landing area
#IndianNavy achieves another historic milestone by undertaking maiden night landing of MiG-29K on @IN_R11Vikrant indicative of the Navy’s impetus towards #aatmanirbharta.#AatmaNirbharBharat@PMOIndia @DefenceMinIndia pic.twitter.com/HUAvYBCnTH— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) May 25, 2023
Why is the MiG-29K landing on INS Vikrant special?W
What makes the MiG-29K fighter aircraft special is that its was the maiden night landing on the indigenously-built INS Vikrant, a feat described by the Indian Navy as a ‘historic milestone.’
The Navy said the trial demonstrated the resolve, skill and professionalism of the crew of the INS Vikrant and the naval pilots. It also means that the INS Vikrant will have 24×7 operational capabilities once it is put into service
In February, Russian-origin MiG-29K and a prototype of the Naval variant of the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas aircraft had conducted day landings on the INS Vikrant.
‘This remarkable achievement is a testimony to the skills, perseverance and professionalism of the Vikrant crew and Naval pilots. Kudos to them,’ Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted.
In September last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned the INS Vikrant making India part of an elite group of nations capable of manufacturing aircraft carriers above 40,000 tonnes.W
With a capacity to hold 30 fighter jets and helicopters, the INS Vikrant will is expected to play a role in ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
At the commissioning ceremony, Prime Minister Modi called it a ‘floating city’ and ‘a reflection of India becoming self-reliant in defence.’
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