After a decade of efforts, the Navy will add its first domestically built aircraft carrier to its service on Friday this week. The event will mark a major step in the Indian Navy’s development.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will commission India’s first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier (IAC-I) INS Vikrant (R44) on September 2, according to government officials.
The Prime Minister will officially induct the flagship to the Indian Navy at a ceremony hosted in a special venue inside the Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) where the ship was built. The carrier is manufactured at the cost of 20,000 crore rupees which is equal to 2.5 billion U.S. Dollars today.
Around 1,500-2,000 people are reportedly expected to attend the program including the retired staff of INS Vikrant (R11) — India’s first aircraft carrier — and officials of defense, shipping ministries, armed forces officials, and the dignitaries of the state government.
On July 28, the Indian Navy had formally taken the delivery of the carrier from CSL after the Navy completed the ship’s final successful trial under its operational testing and conducted the last phase of the sea trials in July.
The Indian Navy already operates INS Vikramaditya (R33) Aircraft Carrier. With the induction of the IAC-I INS Vikrant, the Navy will get a major boost to its power projection capability, and it will bolster India’s position in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as well as its quest for a blue water Navy.
Indian Navy Aviation Corps will operate its fighter jet squadron from the new Vikrant carrier. Currently, the Corps’ existing fleet is set to operate MiG-29K fighter jets, Kamov-31 helicopters, and MH-60R multi-role helicopters.
INS Vikrant is designed by the Indian Navy’s in-house Directorate of Naval Design (DND) Bureau and built by the CSL, a Public Sector Shipyard under the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways.
The carrier is christened after her illustrious predecessor, India’s first aircraft carrier, which played a vital role in the 1971 Indo-Pak war. The ship will be a legacy to its predecessor in name and operational command. At a length of 262 meters and a wider deck compare to Vikramaditya, Vikrant features a modern design at 45,000-tonne displacement. The ship can accommodate the operations of about 30 fixed-wing aircraft.
Additionally, with over 2,300 compartments, the ship is designed for a crew of approximately 1,700, including specialized cabins to accommodate female officers.
The ship’s basic development began in 2009 with the final phase of construction starting in 2013. It took more than one decade to bring the concept to reality.
With the delivery of the Vikrant carrier, India has entered the elite group of nations that have the complete capability to indigenously design and build an aircraft carrier. Additionally, India is one of four countries in the world to operate more than one carrier in its operational fleet.
India expects to begin construction on another carrier soon, though it expects significantly less building time after learning and refining processes through Vikrant’s development.