The Armed Forces

INS Vikrant, India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, likely to be commissioned in 2022

Published : June 25, 2021 14:53 IST

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at INS Kadamba in Karwar, Karnataka on June 24.

The Union government expects the much-delayed first indigenous aircraft carrier 1 (IAC-1), christened Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vikrant, to be commissioned in 2022, coinciding with the 75th year of India’s Independence.

 

The Union government expects the much-delayed first indigenous aircraft carrier 1 (IAC-1), christened Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vikrant, to be commissioned in 2022, coinciding with the 75th year of India’s Independence.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who is on a visit to INS Kadamba, the Navy’s premier naval base in Karwar, Karnataka, was confident that the commissioning of IAC-1 would take place in 2022. He described the indigenous aircraft carrier as a shining example of the Navy’s efforts towards being self-reliant.

Although the keel of the IAC-1 was laid in February 2009 and the warship has been under construction ever since at the Cochin Shipyard Limited, it has faced numerous time and cost overruns. The IAC-1’s first sea trials are expected to take place in December 2021.

Lauding the Indian Navy’s commitment to “AatmaNirbhar Bharat”, or a self-reliant Bharat, the Defence Minister disclosed that of the 48 ships and submarines that are presently being inducted into the Navy, 46 are of indigenous construction. He said the Narendra Modi government had utilised “more than two-thirds of the Navy’s modernisation budget on indigenous procurement” as part of its efforts to boost self-reliance in the Indian Navy during the last five financial years.

The government, he said, had taken several initiatives to promote self-reliance in defence manufacturing. They include allocation of 64 per cent of modernisation funds under the capital acquisition budget for 2021-22 for domestic procurement, changes in the Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 and an increase in the foreign direct investment limit in private companies in the defence sector to 74 per cent.

The Defence Minister conducted an aerial survey of various ongoing projects being carried out at INS Kadamba under the Navy’s “Project Seabird”. Accompanied by the Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, he received on-site briefings, including capability demonstration at the shiplift tower, and undertook a tour of the naval harbour and reviewed the marine works/ infrastructure being developed as part of “Project Seabird” Phase IIA and the operationalisation of piers.

Ever since it was conceived and code-named “Project Seabird” (christened INS Kadamba in 2005), the naval base at Karwar was envisaged to become one of the largest, if not the largest, naval base in Asia. And the base is crucial not just to the Navy’s future operations on the western front, but also to India’s objective of possessing a “Blue Waters Navy”. While the first phase of “Project Seabird” was completed in 2005, the second phase, construction for which began in 2011, is expected to be completed by late 2022 or early 2023.

The Indian Navy, after the decommissioning of its aircraft carrier INS Virat, has only one operational aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya. It has been pressing for another aircraft carrier, apart from INS Vikrant, but has faced resistance from government and military planners.

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