Kochi Shipyard sets the stage for the launch of India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier
India on Monday launched its first home-built aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant at the Kochi shipyard in Kerala to strengthen its maritime presence. With this India has joined the elite league of the six nations of the U.S., Russia, France and Britain in building its own warship carrier of this size and capability.
Launched by the defence minister A. K Antony’s wife Elizabeth, This 37,000 tonne vessel will bolster the naval presence of India in the Pacific ocean in the days ahead. INS Vikrant will be a major milestone in the efforts of India in achieving self reliance in warship design and production and it proves that Indian Navy has come a long way from being a buyer’s Navy to a builder’s Navy. The launch has come shortly after Japan launched its destroyer and China acquired a state of the art aircraft carrier.
The launch marks the successful culmination of the first phase of construction,the production work of which was started in 2006 . INS Vikrant will now be required to be outfitted and put on extensive sea trials in 2016 before the carrier will be formally inducted into the Indian navy in 2018. MiG-29K, Light Combat Aircraft and Kamov 31 will be able to fly from the vessel when it is completed and will be able to incorporate 30 fixed wing aircraft and 10 rotary-wing designs including Mikoyan MiG-29K Fulcrum supplemented by indigenous HAL Tejas, Westland Sea King ( UK) and Kamov Ka-31 series of Russia.
INS Vikrant is over five times larger than any other ship built so far in India and once completed , the ship will measure over 850ft in length and 196ft breadth . The high strength steel for building the aircraft carrier was jointly developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Steel Authority of India Limited . Built at a cost of around Rs140-billion, this aircraft carrier can have two runways for take off and a landing strip that can cater to Light Combat Aircrafts , MiG-29K combat jets and helicopters.
At present India has three aircraft carriers in its fleet, including a British carrier which has been in service since 1987. Later this year, Russia will deliver another aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya. One aircraft carrier each will be used by Eastern and western Naval Commands and the third one will serve as a stand by in case of maintenance.
It is indeed a commendable achievement for the Indian Navy in general and the Kochi shipyard team in particular that worked behind this prestigious project, which will put India among the top league of nations. India is well poised to be the third or fourth biggest economy in the world in the next 5-10 years, which makes it all the more important for the nation to acquire the latest surveillance and security system to defend its mainland and off shore assets.