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‘Work on 3rd aircraft carrier to start soon, India will not stop at three carriers, more to follow’: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh

Source : The Tribune

Two active Indian Navy Aircraft Carriers, INS Vikramaditya (Above) and INS Vikrant (Bottom)

New Delhi: India will soon start making its third aircraft carrier, said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh while talking to The Tribune. He was referring to the pending proposal of the Navy to make another indigenous carrier same in size as INS Vikrant, which weighed 45,000 tonne and was commissioned in September 2022.

India has one more carrier — INS Vikramaditya — sourced from Russia in 2013. “We will not stop at that (three carriers). We will make five, six more,” said Rajnath.

These are first indications of long-term plans for having sea-going carriers that can launch and recover fighter jets from the deck while sailing. Till now, India has been speaking about having three carriers. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence in January last year suggested the need for having a third sea-going aircraft carrier. It had said, “The reach and flexibility of a carrier is far superior to military airfields in far-flung island territories.” What Rajnath said is setting is a fresh target for India and it matches China’s plan to have aircraft carriers.

Three years ago, a US Department of Defence report, ‘Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2021’, warned, “China continues to build a multi-carrier force. Plans are for six carriers by 2030.”

China has two operational aircraft carriers — Liaoning and Shandong. On May 1, it started a week-long sea trial of its next-generation aircraft carrier Fujian. This is China’s third aircraft carrier and the first equipped with electromagnetic catapults. The US aircraft carriers use the technology of electromagnetic catapults to launch fighter jets from deck. A catapult launch allows jets to carry heavier payload and reduce the time between the launch of two jets.

Fujian, an 80,000 tonne warship, is bigger than carriers made by the UK, France, India and Japan.

Not just India and China, other Asian countries are also racing to project power at sea and make carriers. The Japanese have converted helicopter carrier JS Izumo into an aircraft carrier capable of flying F35. It is converting another helicopter carrier, JS Kaga.

South Korea has a plan to launch a carrier by 2030.

India operated its first carrier — HMS Hercules — in 1961. It was sourced second hand from the UK and was renamed ‘INS Vikrant’. It played an important role during the 1971 India-Pakistan war on the eastern front before getting decommissioned in 1997.

India’s second carrier, HMS Hermes, also sourced second hand from the UK, was renamed INS Viraat. Inducted in 1987, it was decommissioned in 2017.



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