INS Vikramaditya is India’s most powerful aircraft carrier, and it is considered an extremely effective long-range attack weapon. They can quietly approach the enemy coast and launch attacks with MiG-29K fighter squadrons.
INS Vikramaditya is one of the largest, most modern carriers in India, it is considered a symbol of the Indian power in the early years of the 21st century. Along with the Liaoning carrier serving in the Chinese Navy, these are the two most powerful aircraft carriers in Asia.
Like many other countries, India wants the best weapon it can afford. But political and financial barriers make many things they cannot be purchased from the United States or Europe. But for Russia that’s a different story, India has been a big buyer of Russian weapons for 50 years.
In the early 2000s, India planned to buy a new aircraft carrier to replace the carrier INS Viraat, which was about to retire in the near future. India’s options were limited. The only countries building carriers at the time – the United States, France and Italy, were building ships too big for India’s checkbook. In 2004, India and Russia struck a deal in which India would receive Admiral Gorshkov.
The ship herself would be free, but India would pay $974 million dollars to Russia to upgrade her. This amount later rose to $ 2.35 billion after years of negotiations, a much larger amount than originally estimated. The contract also included the sale of Russian fighter planes MIG 29Ks and MIG 29 KUBs along with appropriate training provided to the fighter pilots.
Talk a little bit about Admiral Gorshkov to help you remember, this was a heavy cruiser of Soviet origin. In 1988, the Soviet Union commissioned the aircraft carrier Baku. She and her four sisters of the Kiev class represented a unique Soviet design. Baku briefly served in the Soviet navy until the USSR dissolved in 1991. Russia inherited the vessel, renamed her Admiral Gorshkov and kept her on the rolls of the new Russian navy until 1996. After a boiler room explosion, likely due to a lack of maintenance, Russia had to abandon this ship.
- Beriev A-50 – The Russian giant flying radar
- Sea Harrier – The naval version of the famous Harrier Jump Jet
- USS Gerald R. Ford CVN-78 – the most expensive aircraft carrier of the US Navy
The ship was handed over to India in 2013. After being received, the Indian Navy officially commissioned the ship on November 16, 2013 with the name INS Vikramaditya in honour of Vikramaditya, a legendary emperor of India. Her name meaning “Brave as the Sun”.
As completed, Vikramaditya has a larger full load displacement than when the ship was originally as Baku. The vessel has a displacement of 45,400 tonnes and feature a short-take off but arrested recovery system, rather than the catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery launch system used by current US aircraft carriers. This is the first Indian aircraft carrier of the Short Takeoff but Assisted Recovery category since it has the capacity to position the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft on its board.
INS Vikramaditya has an overall length of about 284 meters and a maximum beam of about 60 meters. 1,750 out of 2,500 compartments of the ship were re-fabricated, and extensive re-cabling was done to support new radars and sensors.
As opposed to the STOVL configuration the ship was built as, the original Gorshkov ship was completely removed of all the armament, including the P-500 Bazalt cruise missile launchers and the four Antey Kinzhal surface-to-air missile bins fitted on ship’s bow, to make way for a full-width ski-jump.
The superstructure profile was designed to accommodate the fixed phased array scanners of the Soviet Navy’s Mars-Passat 3D air search radar system, along with extensive command and control facilities to conduct an aerial campaign. The warship is capable of carrying over 30 aircraft and helicopters. Featuring a total of 22 decks, the carrier has the capacity to accommodate more than 1,600 personnel on board, including officers and sailors. The modernised ship is also equipped with flight deck lighting systems, new AC plants, two reverse osmosis plants for producing 400t of fresh water per day, as well as updated refrigeration and air conditioning.
The eight original boilers were replaced by new generation, high-pressure boilers, converted to take diesel fuel instead of furnace fuel oil, which produce a total power of 180,000 horsepower driving four huge propellers. This gives Vikramaditya has a maximum speed of over 30 knots and can attain a maximum range 13,500 nautical miles at 18 knots. It can endure at sea up to 45 days. She is also being fitted with six turbo alternators and six diesel alternators generate 18 Megawatts of electricity to power various equipment.
With the extensive refit and modernization process conducted before joining the Indian Navy, INS Vikramaditya has the capability to house aircraft such as MiG-29Ks and Sea Harrier fighter jets, and also helicopters including Kamov, Sea King, Dhruv and Chetak.
The MiG-29Ks, a fourth generation air superiority fighter, features a range of weapons such as Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missiles and anti-ship missiles, as well as guided bombs and rockets. The Kamov Ka-31 on board the vessel will be placed on the role of airborne early warning and control system.
Being an efficient naval warship, INS Vikramaditya ship is capable of operating both in offensive and defensive modes with the support of as frigates, missile boats and attack submarines on board the vessel. Moreover, this aircraft carrier of Indian Navy has the capacity and amenities to act as hospital ships, humanitarian relief & disaster relief platforms and survey vessels during accidents and natural calamities, and also research purposes.
A few notable activities of INS Vikramaditya have been reported. In June 2016, INS Vikramaditya met with an accident while undergoing a scheduled major refit at Karwar naval base, two people were killed and two other people were injured and taken to the naval hospital.
In February 2017, a Mig-29K aircraft, which took off from the carrier, had made an emergency landing at Mangalore because of hydraulic failure.
Most recently, in April 2019, one naval officer died of smoke inhalation at Karwar’s naval hospital INHS Patanjali and seven others were injured after fighting a fire that erupted in the boiler room of Vikramaditya on her course to INS Kadamba.
Despite the delays and controversies, the arrival of INS Vikramaditya has added a unique shine and pride to the history of the Indian naval force. The acquisition of INS Vikramaditya was part of the Indian Navy’s plan to strengthen its capabilities and secure its vast coastline.