Source : Hindustan Times
|Indigenous Aircraft Carrier Vikrant returns after successful maiden sea voyage, in Kochi (PTI File photo)
Indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) Vikrant, the largest warship ever built in the country, is set to be commissioned into the Indian Navy next month, officials familiar with developments said on Friday. The carrier will provide a significant boost for the country’s naval presence and its reach.
“Vikrant will be commissioned into the navy in August, in the 75th year of India’s independence. The final date is being worked on. The aircraft carrier will strengthen the navy’s capabilities in the backdrop of changing power dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region, where China seeks to increase its presence,” said one of officials cited above.
Designed by the navy’s directorate of naval design (DND), Vikrant has been built at the state-owned Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL). The construction started in 2009 and over 75% of the ship’s components were made indigenously.
The warship, with a displacement of 37,500 tonnes, will operate MiG-29K fighter jets, a new deck-based fighter the navy is planning to buy (it has already tested Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet and Dassault Aviation’s Rafale-M), Kamov-31 helicopters, MH-60R multi-role helicopters and the indigenous advanced light helicopters.
It has been named after aircraft carrier INS Vikrant operated by the Indian Navy from 1961 to 1997.
Measuring in 262 metres in length, Vikrant has a beam of 62 metres and a height of 59 metres. It has 14 decks, including five in the superstructure, 2,300 compartments and can accommodate a crew of 1,700. The ship will have a top speed of around 28 knots and cruising speed of 18 knots, with an endurance of about 7,500 nautical miles.
It will be the fourth aircraft carrier to be operated by the Indian Navy — Vikrant (British origin) from 1961 to 1997, INS Viraat (British origin) from 1987 to 2016 and INS Vikramaditya (Russian origin) 2013 onwards.
India currently operates only one aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, bought second-hand from Russia for $2.33 billion. But the navy has been arguing it needs three such floating airfields given its vast area of interest.
Vikrant will put India in a select league — only the US, the UK, Russia, France and China have the capability to build aircraft carriers.
The commissioning comes even as China launched its third aircraft carrier, Fujian in June .
Beijing has been pushing for greater maritime influence in the far seas and its warships often attempt to leave their mark in Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. A warship’s launch marks a significant milestone in its construction and refers to the vessel entering the water for the first time.
China currently operates two aircraft carriers — CV-16 Liaoning and CV-17 Shandong.