MiG-29K for China Dismissed at Aero India
By WENDELL MINNICK
BANGALORE - A Russian defense industry official dismissed the idea that the MiG-29K carrier-based fighter jet would ever be offered to Beijing to outfit its future aircraft carrier, the former Soviet-built Varyag under refurbishment in China.
The comments came during the 2011 Aero India air show here, taking place Feb. 9-13. The MiG-29K entered service with the Indian Navy in early 2010 and will be deployed on the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier, now under construction.
"This is not an option for China's aircraft carrier program," the Russian defense industry official said, citing unresolved differences with China over intellectual property in the Su-27/J-11B fighter scandal.
In 2009, Russian officials accused China of stealing the blueprints for the Su-27 to produce an indigenous variant, the J-11B. There also have been allegations that the design for China's new L-15 advanced trainer jet was copied directly from Russia's Yak-130.
"The Chinese are going with an indigenous option for their carrier aircraft, most likely a modified variant of the Su-33," the industry official said.
There are unconfirmed reports that China acquired a prototype of the Su-33 from Ukraine.
The Chinese have become extremely sophisticated in their indigenous defense industrial capabilities, the official said. "Ten years ago, you couldn't take them seriously, but they have since become very competent."
Tensions between China and India along their shared northern border also could be contributing to Russia's reluctance to sell the MiG-29K to China. Aero India officials turned down requests from Chinese journalists wanting to attend the show this year, indicating the troubled state of Sino-Indian relations.
Various U.S. sources attending Aero India suggested that China's surprise unveiling of the stealthy J-20 fighter in December could bring about calls within India to buy Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. However, Indian-Russian cooperation on the development of a fifth-generation fighter suggests otherwise.