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Indian Navy

INS Vikrant, India’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier, commissioned

Print edition : Nov 13, 2022 T+T-

INS Vikrant, India’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier, commissioned

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the INS Vikrant commissioning ceremony,in Kochi on September 2.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the INS Vikrant commissioning ceremony,in Kochi on September 2. | Photo Credit: PTI

The 262-m-long, 62-m-wide aircraft carrier cost over Rs.19,500 crore and took 17 years to fructify.

India joined a select band of countries on September 2 when it commissioned the country’s first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier, Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vikrant (R11).

With the commissioning of INS Vikrant, the Indian Navy now operates two aircraft carriers, the other being INS Vikramaditya (R33), a platform that was refurbished and procured from Russia.

The 262-metre-long, 62-metre-wide aircraft carrier, which cost over Rs.19,500 crore or $2.5 billion to construct (without its complement of fighter aircraft or weapons), has a displacement of over 40,000 tonnes and took around 17 years to fructify since metal cutting.

The commissioning signifies India’s growing aspirations to expand the navy into a truly blue-water navy that is capable of operating globally and enable an expansion of India’s share of global trade (97 per cent of India’s trade is through sea routes).

It also signals New Delhi’s readiness to meet the growing strategic-security challenges posed by China, which has the largest and most rapidly expanding navy in the world. It will also give a much-needed fillip to India’s military equipment ecosystem and the quest to be self-reliant in defence equipment.

Highlights

With an indigenous content (in terms of equipment and services) of around 76 per cent, the carrier was built at the government-owned Cochin Shipyard Limited. Admittedly, several critical technologies were imported.

Over 550 OEMs, sub-contractors, and ancillary industries, and over 100 MSMEs, were part of the carrier’s journey from steel to potent warship. One of the engineering and technological spinoffs of constructing the carrier has been that India is now now having the capacity to make warship-grade steel (at Steel Authority of India).

INS Vikrant has a complement of 1,600 sailors and officers, 2,200 compartments including specialised cabins to accommodate women sailors and officers, an endurance of 7,500 nautical miles, and, most crucially, an air arm of 30 fixed and rotary winged aircraft, including the Russian origin MiG-29K combat aircraft and Kamov-31 helicopters, and the US origin MH-60R multi-role helicopters.

In addition, INS Vikrant’s air wing will boast of the indigenously manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and Light Combat Aircraft Tejas (Navy).

The government is looking to procure and equip the carrier with 26 either Boeing-manufactured F/A-18 Super Hornets or the Dassault-manufactured Rafale M fighter aircraft.

These aircraft will at best be a stop-gap arrangement until the planned indigenously designed and built twin-engine deck-based fighter is ready by around 2032.

The carrier is expected to shortly commence its air operations.

Aircraft carriers like the INS Vikrant, along with their accompanying warships, tankers, and submarines, are self-contained carrier battle groups which offer tremendous flexibility of operations against shore-based targets, and in air defence, anti-submarine, and anti-ship roles.