INS Vikramaditya, the former Soviet heavy aircraft carrying cruiser Admiral Gorshkov will take over as the flagship of the Indian navy after INS Viraat R22 retired in 2017. She started her life as an aircraft carrying cruiser named Baku. She had heavy armament on the bow while the angled deck was used for air ops. Her aviation facilities would be used by Yak-38s and naval helicopters. She was renamed as Admiral Gorshkov in 1991. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, she was deactivated and offered for sale. India grabbed the deal and after a billion dollar refit she entered Indian service in 2013. She will continue to serve the Indian navy for decades. In this picture post we will track her life using pictures.
Baku sported a different island compared to other Kiev class carriers as it served as a test bed for the follow on Kuznetsov class.
Baku being launched on 31st March 1982.
Baku undergoing live firing trials in the year 1987 just before being commissioned.
This pic shows her impressive weapon & sensor arrays.
Yak-38 taking off from her angled deck.
Kamov naval helicopters are common sight on the decks of Soviet and Russian vessels and are used for a wide variety of roles like SAR, AEW, ASW etc.
She was also used for testing the Yak-141 supersonic STOVL jet, one of which crashed on her deck.
No captain wants the enemy to spot his ship but in this case an American sub has Baku square in its sights.
She was in a pretty bad shape due to years of neglect after her deactivation in 1991.
Her armament was removed during the refit and a ski-jump was added to facilitate STOBAR ops.
The rear end of the deck was extended to increase the area of the flight deck.
Her island received a lot of rework too as obsolete and damaged systems were replaced with cutting edge sensors. In the above pic we can see the island before and after the refit.
PCU Vikramaditya started sea trials in mid 2012, 4 years behind schedule. Her boilers malfunctioned during the sea trials and another year of delay was added. She cleared her second sea trials successfully and was commissioned into the Indian navy on 16th of Nov 2013.
MiG-29K coming in to land on INS Vikramaditya during the trials (Credits-On the pic)
INS Vikramaditya thus became the largest vessel ever operated by the Indian navy after her commissioning.
She began her 10,000NM journey home on 27th of November 2013. She started from Murmansk along with INS Tarkash and INS Deepak, went through the English channel, entered the Mediterranean through the Straits of Gibraltar. She was joined by INS Delhi in Gibraltar. The flotilla then entered Arabian sea through the Suez canal where they met INS Viraat and her CBG. The two carriers have been operating together ever since.
HMS Monmouth escorting INS Vikramaditya through the English Channel.
INS Vikramaditya near Gibraltar. (Credits-On the pic)
And then the carriers met up for this epic photo-shoot
First arrested landing by an Indian pilot on the Vikramaditya occurred on 8th Feb 2014.
INS Vikramaditya operating off the Indian coast with INS Viraat and her CBG
INS Vikramaditya took her air wing and demonstrated its capabilities to the Indian Prime Minister during his visit to the carrier. The carrier is now combat capable and the recent refit which added Barak-1 and Ak-630 CIWS will improve her self defense capability manifold. She will be the sole carrier for 2 years after the retirement of Viraat but will be supplemented by INS Vikrant from 2018.
INS Vikramaditya with her air wing.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi onboard Vikramaditya
INS Vikramaditya seen during Navy Day 2014 near Mumbai
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