INS Vikrant set to undock next month

NEW DELHI: India is working on two separate projects to ramp up sea-borne aircraft carriers capability. The under construction indigenous 40,000 tonne INS Vikrant is slated to ‘undock’ from its building pontoon at Kochi next month, while India’s biggest naval warship and aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya, is under a minor ‘re-fit’ to complete its Close-In Warfare System (CIWS), a protection from incoming enemy missiles.

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 16

India is working on two separate projects to ramp up sea-borne aircraft carriers capability. The under construction indigenous 40,000 tonne INS Vikrant is slated to ‘undock’ from its building pontoon at Kochi next month, while India’s biggest naval warship and aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya, is under a minor ‘re-fit’ to complete its Close-In Warfare System (CIWS), a protection from incoming enemy missiles.

Vice Admiral Ashok Subedar, Controller, Warship Production and Acquisition, told the media today, “In May this we will undock the INS Vikrant. As much as 95 per cent of its hull is complete as is 22,000 tonnes of steel structure. The shafting and propeller work is in last stages”.

Despite challenges, all efforts are being made to meet the December 2018 deadline set by the Cabinet Committee on Security for commission of the INS Vikrant. After the undocking it will undergo harbour trials, sea trials followed by on-deck flight trials, Vice Admiral Subedar said.

He was speaking to the media to announce the sea launch of the first of the set-of-four new warships. It is targeted for induction in 2018 and the remaining three ships shall follow at the intervals of two years each.

Talking about INS Vikramaditya, inducted in November 2013, the Vice Admiral said Israeli Barak missile is being installed on the ship at its home base Karwar, south of Goa.

Navy was originally looking at two options, either the Israeli Barak or the Russian Shitil missiles.

A Barak-missile launch will be taken from one of warships that is being decommissioned. Sources said the INS Godavari, which had been given a Barak launch system some 10 years ago, has a fully functional system that is being put on the aircraft carrier. The Godavari is 32 years old and is set for decommissioning.

“Fitting the Barak is a complex procedure which entails cutting through the deck. A period of some four months has been factored in for this”, sources said. The warship could carry up to 32 or 48 LR-SAMs.

A CIWS is needed as the last protection layer against incoming missiles as well as an aircraft. It is ship’s own air defence system. When deployed, a carrier does not float alone but moves around with a small flotilla of warships. The LR-SAMs is one part of the CIWS and it includes other guns on the deck and an electronic warfare suite.

On being asked about the next aircraft carrier, dubbed as the indigenous aircraft carrier-2 (IAC-2), Vice Admiral Subedar said the Naval design bureau would consider both the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) which enables a fighter jet to take-off from the deck of the carrier and the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) which enables its landing. India is trying to get the technology from the US.

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