India's first indigenous aircraft carrier begins sea trial

The carrier is expected to be completely operational by 2022

Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, August 4

In what is a significant step towards making military equipment within India, the indigenously made sea-going aircraft carrier the INS Vikrant, on Wednesday, set out on its maiden sea trial.

The 44,000 tonne ‘indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC)’ is being made at the state-owned Cochin shipyard at Kochi, Kerala.

The aviation complex will be tested using the Russian MiG 29K jets that will use its deck to take off and land.

The carrier is expected to be completely operational by 2022.

This will happen in the backdrop of the India-China race to expand their Naval strength. China has two operational and two under-construction aircraft carriers, and plans half a dozen carriers by 2030.

India has one operational, INS Vikramaditya, purchased from Russia and the upcoming INS Vikrant.

The plan for the third carrier is so far not okayed.

The INS Vikrant is the largest and most complex warship ever to be designed and built-in India.

With the building of an Indigenous Aircraft Carrier, India joins a select group of nations having niche capability to indigenously design, build and integrate a state-of-the-art Aircraft Carrier.

US, UK, Russia, Italy, France and Japan have such capacities. South Korea is pursuing a carrier programme.

The Vikrant was scheduled to join the fleet in December 2018 as per approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security, however, it has faced delays.

The keel was laid in 2009, and it was set out at sea in 2013. The integration of the aviation complex on board and its mating with other sensors was the key.

The propulsion and the complexity of making such a warship added to the delays, which have led to the cost escalating beyond the originally sanctioned Rs. 19,341 crore, the CAG said in its report in July 2016.

The Chinese operate its first-ever carrier, the 65,000-tonne Liaoning, which Beijing bought from Russia, refurbished, and commissioned in 2012. India has operated at least one aircraft carrier since 1961.

Tribune Shorts

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