Finally, INS Vikrant, India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, had its first sea trials after many delays.
India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier is named after the Indian Navy’s first aircraft carrier which was decommissioned in 1997 after more than 35 years of service – INS Vikrant. This achievement puts India in the list of a few countries capable of building these most powerful naval vessels.
The Vikrant is built at the Kochin shipyard in the state of Kerala and is the flagship of “Made in India”. The success of the project will spur other domestic projects aimed at India’s economic growth and defense industry. The Indian Ministry of Defense said that Vikrant has a localization rate of more than 76%.
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 12 August 2013. The basin trials were completed in December 2020, and the ship has started the sea trials on 4th August 2021 and will be commissioned into the service of Indian Navy by August 2022. The total cost of the project was approximately $3.2 billion at the time of first sea trials.
INS Vikrant has a displacement of 45,000 tons, a maximum speed of about 65 km / h, a range of nearly 14,000 km. This aircraft carrier is similar in size to the INS Vikramaditya of Soviet origin. Vikrant uses the same ski jump design as the Vikramaditya. However, Vikrant has a number of new improvements including a dedicated compartment for female officers, significantly increased automation. Improved machine performance, positioning and survivability.
The deck is designed to enable aircraft such as the MiG-29K to operate from the carrier. It is expected to carry an air group of up to thirty aircraft, which will include up to 24–26 fixed-wing combat aircraft, primarily the Mikoyan MiG-29K, besides carrying 10 Kamov Ka-31 or Westland Sea King helicopters. The Ka-31 will fulfill the airborne early warning (AEW) role and the Sea King will provide anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability.
The ship’s combat management system (CMS) 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 Indian Navy on 28 March 2019.
Vikrant’s elevators are mounted on either side of the superstructure, to improve the ability to transport aircraft from the hangar to the deck. Vikrant is equipped with radar complex IAI Elta EL/M-2248 MF-STAR manufactured by Israel. The ship is also equipped with Israel’s Rafael Berak 8 air defense missile system and Russia’s AK-630 CIWS complex.
India is expected to cooperate with the UK and US to build a second domestic aircraft carrier named INS Vishal with a displacement of 65,000 tons, significantly larger than Vikrant. Vishal is expected to be completed in the 2030s, possibly using the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) if the US agrees to transfer this technology to India.