Currently, the Indian Navy is serviced by an aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya. And soon, they will continue to have the service of the INS Vikrant.
Along with China, India is one of Asia’s leading naval powers, despite major economic challenges. For aircraft carriers, the Indian Navy has had extensive experience with aircraft carriers in the past.
In 2013, India’s first self-made aircraft carrier was launched. This $5 billion project has brought New Delhi into the self-made aircraft carrier countries club. The INS Vikrant was launched in Kochi. According to Indian media, this is a memorable milestone, it marks the first step in a long way but is also an important step. The construction of this vessel is actually much later than the two-year plan due to multiple supplies, equipment and technical problems.
The INS Vikrant, meaning ” courageous”, will be completed with advanced machinery, weapons and testing within four years. The ship is capable of carrying Russian-made MiG-29 fighters and many other light fighter aircraft. This will be the star in the Indian navy, which owns a 60-year-old British carrier acquired by New Delhi in 1987, the INS Vikrant R11.
INS Vikrant, also known as Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 1, is an aircraft carrier under construction by Cochin Shipyard in Kochi, Kerala for the Indian Navy. Work on the ship’s design began in 1999, and the keel was laid in February 2009. The carrier was floated out of its dry dock on 29 December 2011 and was launched on August 12, 2013. The ship is expected to start sea trials in 2021 and enter into service in 2022. The ship can accommodate 1,600 personnel including ship company, airgroup and troops.
When completed, the ship will have an overall length of 260m (860 ft), a beam of 62m (203 ft), and a draft of 8.4m (28 ft). Its displacement will be 40,000t.
Like India’s flagship INS Vikramaditya, Vikrant will sport a ski ramp for assisted takeoffs and arrestor cables for landing aircraft. The arresting gear and other equipment were procured from Russia. Fincantieri of Italy will provide assistance for propulsion system integration and the Naval Design Bureau of Russia will supply its aviation technology.
Vikrant is powered by four General Electric LM2500 gas turbines on two shafts, generating over 110,000 horsepower. The propulsion system provides a maximum speed of over 28 knots. The ship will have a range of about 8,000 nautical miles. The gearboxes for the carrier were designed and supplied by Elecon Engineering.
Vikrant is expected to operate thirty aircraft, including the mix of combat aircraft including the MiG-29K, Sea Harrier and naval light aircraft as well as the HAL Dhruv and Ka-31 helicopters with hangar facilities. The Ka-31 provides airborne early warning coverage.
The ship’s combat management system was developed by Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division in collaboration with Weapon and Electronics System Engineering Establishment and MARS, Russia. It is the first combat management system developed by a private company for the Indian Navy, was handed over to the Navy on March 28, 2019.
The Vikrant will be equipped with a modern early warning radar, VHF or UHF tactical air navigation and direction finding systems. The ship will also feature jamming capabilities. The combat management system onboard will use sensors and tactical data links to provide real-time situational awareness.
The aircraft carrier will be fitted with a vertical launch system for long-range surface-to-air missiles. A close-in weapon system will provide self-defence for the ship against incoming anti-ship missiles and aircraft. Four OTO Melera 76mm Super Rapid guns, two on the bow section and two at the stern side will be fitted. They can fire 120 rounds a minute at a range of 30,000m.
The INS Vikrant will be the first of two aircraft carriers India is building domestically, with the latter one being much larger and more advanced. It will have catapult-assisted take-off and arrestor recovery.
INS Vikrant will bring India in balance with China to join the group of countries that design and manufacture aircraft carriers themselves. According to analysts, this will be a great advantage for New Delhi to gain influence in Asia and balance the rise of China. Construction of Vikrant is part of India’s dream of two fully modernized carriers, with a goal of three carriers.
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