Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh announced that the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant will go to sea trials in July to strengthen countering China in the Indian Ocean.
INS Vikrant is India’s second aircraft carrier and first domestically built aircraft carrier. The first, INS Vikramaditya, 35 years old now, served in the Russian navy as Admiral Gorshkov. Meanwhile, China currently owns two aircraft carriers, including the Liaoning and the Shandong. China is building a third ship, expected to be launched this year.
The Indian government calls the new aircraft carrier “the most powerful asset at sea” and an “incomparable military asset”. The Russian-made MiG-29K will be India’s new carrier-based main fighter, along with the Ka-31 early warning helicopter, the US MH-60R multirole helicopter and Indian light domestic helicopters.
Ben Ho, a maritime analyst in Singapore, said the new aircraft carrier gives India “more options to deal with China”. India will be more confident with new options to deal with China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean. According to Yogesh Joshi, a researcher at the National University of Singapore, India’s combat capabilities and naval capabilities have been significantly increased thanks to the new aircraft carrier. As India consolidates control of the Indian Ocean waters, it is possible to mobilize aircraft carriers to block sea routes to prevent cargo ships from reaching China in the event of a crisis.
INS Vikrant was designed in 1999, and built in February 2009. The carrier was floated out of its dry dock on December 29, 2011, and was launched on 12 August 2013. INS Vikrant has an estimated displacement of 45,000 tons, a length of 262 m, a beam of 62 m, and a draft of 8.4 m.
When completed, INS Vikrant can carry a total of 36-40 aircraft of all types, including 26 x Fixed Wing Aircraft including Mikoyan MiG-29K, 10 x Kamov Ka-31, Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk , Westland Sea King and HAL Dhruv.