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India’s new aircraft carrier heads for sea trials

INS Vikrant during sea trials. (Indian Navy/Released)
August 09, 2021

The Indian Navy crossed another milestone August 4 as the long-awaited flagship aircraft carrier IAC-I, which was under construction for a decade, left the dock and began its sea trials, signaling its operational readiness in the near future.

IAC-I will be the fourth carrier to be operated by the Indian Navy in its history. Hailed as the largest and most advanced vessel India has ever designed and built on its own, the ship sailed on its maiden sea trials on Wednesday, August 4. The brand new carrier took the name of an early aircraft carrier in Indian Navy INS Vikrant (R11), which played a key role in the 1971 war.

“Proud & historic day for India as the reincarnated #Vikrant sails for her maiden sea trials today, in the 50th year of her illustrious predecessor’s key role in victory in the #1971war Largest & most complex warship ever to be designed & built in India,” the Indian Navy tweeted. “Many more will follow.”

Built by Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), the ship’s keel was laid in 2009 and launched in 2013 as one of the most expensive and mammoth military vessels the Indian shipyard has ever designed. With the conclusion of this successful project, CSL will be boosted enough to carry out other massive projects in the future, including similar capital ships and the next carriers in class.

“India joins a select group of nations having niche capability to indigenously design, build and integrate a state-of-the-art aircraft carrier. Reaching this milestone despite COVID-19 challenges (was) made possible by dedicated efforts of all stakeholders,” the Navy said in a statement.

The CSL intends to hand over INS Vikrant as early as possible and before the end of this fiscal year. After successful sea trials, the ship will be given final touches and will complete the remaining fittings and checks before the commissioning ceremony.

INS Vikrant is a STOBAR configured aircraft carrier, designed and built by CSL and the Indian Navy. With more than 60 percent of indigenous content in the ship, it is a consolidating example of India’s ability to construct capital ships. Vikrant is 262 meters (860 feet) long and 62 meters (203 feet) wide, and displaces about 45,000 metric tons with a full load. The ship also has the ability to carry 1,600 crew members with 26 fixed-wing aircraft on deck, including peak endurance at 8,000 nautical mile range.

After a successful induction, India will be the third nation behind the U.S. and U.K. to have more than one carrier on active duty.