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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

India launches first home-built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant

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Making history and setting a new milestone, India will commission its first ever domestically built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant today (02). Along with the new aircraft carrier, India will join the elite group of countries such as the US and China that are capable of building their own aircraft carriers.

With the commissioning of Vikrant, India will have two operational aircraft carriers, which will bolster the maritime security of the nation as well as the region. INS Vikramaditya is the other operational aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy.

Once commissioned, Vikrant will sail across both Indian and international waters, accompanied by a fleet of frigates, destroyers and submarines to protect it. Once it’s in service, it will eventually be the workplace and home for 1,700 crew members.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will commission the aircraft carrier at the Cochin Shipyard in Kochi today (02).

The Prime Minister’s Office said the commissioning of INS Vikrant will mark a significant step towards making India more self-reliant, especially in terms of defence and strategic sectors.

Designed by the Navy’s in-house Warship Design Bureau (WDB) and built by the Cochin Shipyard, Vikrant has been built with state-of- the-art automation features and is the largest ship ever built in the maritime history of India.

It has a large number of indigenous equipment and machinery, involving major industrial houses in the country as well as over 100 Small and Medium Enterprises.

As per Eurasian Times, the vessel has a beam of 62 meters and a height of 59 meters. It has 14 decks, five in the superstructure, and 2,300 compartments that can house a crew of 1,700, including special cabins for women officers.

Meanwhile, The Tribune reported that the vessel has ship aircraft lifts (to take jets from hangar to deck) with a carrying capacity of 30 tonnes each, designed to operate without impeding the flight operations on deck.

Cochin Shipyard Limited’s (CSL) Chairman & Managing Director (CMD) Madhu S Nair said, “Vikrant is a marvel, it’s five to seven times bigger in size than any warship India has made so far.”

Mr. Nair said the shipyard is now investing in a new dock – to be ready by 2024 – to build India’s next aircraft carrier. “I hope the approval for building the next carrier comes in. If it does, we will be ready for much faster deliveries,” he told the BBC.

Around 76 per cent of its Rs. 200,000 million budget has been spent on equipment and manpower from India.

This includes 23,000 tonnes of steel, 2,500 km of electric cables, 150 km of pipes, and 2,000 valves, and a wide range of finished products including rigid hull boats, galley equipment, air-conditioning and refrigeration plants, and steering gear.

The Navy said the companies and institutions such as TATA, L&T, Wartsila and Kirloskar Pneumatics, along with public sector Bharat Electronics Limited, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Mishra Dhatu Nigam (MIDHANI) shaped the progress.

The carrier is designed with a very high degree of automation for machinery operations, ship navigation and survivability. The carrier is equipped with the latest state-of-the-art equipment and systems.

It is equipped with a fully-fledged state-of-the-art medical complex with the latest medical equipment facilities including major modular OT, emergency modular OT, physiotherapy clinic, ICU, laboratories, CT scanner, X-Ray machines, dental complex, isolation ward and telemedicine facilities.

INS Vikrant, with its ski-jump ramp technology with two take-off runways and a landing strip with three arrester wires can operate Short Take-Off but Arrested Landing (STOBAR) craft.

The aircraft carrier will operate Kamov-31 helicopters, MH-60R multi-role helicopters, and other indigenously built advanced light helicopters as well.

However, according to The Tribune, some of its weapons and equipment have been imported and the long-range surface-to-air missiles (LRSAM) are Israeli while Russia has supplied the aviation complex and the MiG 29-K jets.

The propulsion system’s integration has been done by Italian Fincantieri. The ship’s four engines, LM 2500 gas turbines, are from the US company General Electric, but HAL played a role in the integration of engines.

Integration of all weapon systems would be through an indigenous Combat Management System (CMS).

With the unveiling of INS Vikrant, India will join the exclusive club of nations with the ability to design and build an aircraft carrier with a displacement of over 40,000 tonnes. So far, only the US, the UK, Russia, France, and China had the capacity to build their own aircraft carriers.

The Navy plans to test intensive flying operations from INS Vikrant later this year as Vice Chief of Staff Vice Admiral SN Ghormade said MiG-29K fighter landing trials would begin in November and be completed by mid-2023.

Thus Vikrant will be fully operational by the end of 2023.

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