India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) has begun its third set of sea trials on January 9. At 40,000 tonnes, it will be the largest ever warship to be built in the country.
According to a spokesperson for the Indian Navy, the “IAC has now sailed out to undertake complex manoeuvres to establish specific readings of how the carrier performs in various conditions, in addition to which various sensor suites of the warship would also be tested.” The spokesperson added that the Indian Navy had gained considerable confidence in the ship’s abilities from its successful completion of the two earlier trials.
The IAC undertook its maiden sea trials in August 2021 to establish propulsion, navigational suite and basic operations. The second round of trials in October-November 2021 witnessed the warship being put through its paces in terms of various machinery and flight trials. During the second round of trials, the ship was out for 10 days, proving its sustenance and clearing various seamanship evolutions.
On the completion of a series of progressive sea trials, it is scheduled to be commissioned as Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vikrant in August, as India commemorates “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav”.
An aircraft carrier commands a position of strategic and technological eminence and is considered by maritime pundits as the pinnacle in the domain of warship design and construction. The IAC catapults India into an elite group of nations including the United States, Russia, Great Britain, France and China, who have the “niche capability” to indigenously design, build, integrate and manufacture a state-of-the-art aircraft carrier. The indigenous content in the IAC, including a large number of materials such as steel, and other equipment and systems which has been manufactured by Indian industrial houses and around 100 medium and small enterprises, is close to 76 per cent of the overall project cost of Rs.19,341 crore.
Though the IAC will be commissioned in August, it is expected to become fully operational only in mid-2023, after various flight trials are successfully undertaken from its deck.