New Delhi: India is all ready to launch its indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, on August 12, 2013. The 40,000-tonne carrier will be launched by Defence Minister AK Antony and his wife at the Cochin Shipyard.
The launch will propel India to the fifth spot in the list of nations that are capable of manufacturing and operating a 40,000 tonne carrier. So far, only America, Russia, UK and France have the capability of building a carrier over 40,000-tonne.
The vessel design idea was conceived in 2001 and given a go ahead in 2003, after it received proper funding from the government.
INS Vikrant is over 75 percent ready and has been under development for the past eight years. The construction of INS Vikrant started in 2009 and is expected to go sea trials by 2014.
INS Vikrant will usher a new-era of indigenous design-and-development being taken by the country. Till now, Indian defence had to rely on British assistance to procure and develop its naval defence technology. In the recent past, India has taken pragmatic steps to develop military technology through indigenous means in its quest to become a major world military power. So far, Indian navy had been using British-origin aircraft carriers- INS Viraat (R22) and INS Vikrant (R11).
India had to shelf its 1989-plan of developing two “Air Defence Ships” of 28,000 tonne to deploy its BAe Sea Harrier Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft, which it procured from Britain.
Rapid economic development in the past few years has made it possible for India to think of developing an indigenous aircraft carrier.
Vikrant has been outfitted with a ski-ramp and it employs conventional arrestor line configuration, known as STOBAR (Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery).
Indian Navy has procured MiG-29K Fulcrum (Navalised versions of the land based Fulcrum) which it plans to deploy on the vessel, once its development is complete.
The vessel will be able to incorporate 30 fixed wing aircraft and 10 rotary-wing designs- Mikoyan MiG-29K Fulcrum supplemented by indigenous HAL Tejas. In the rotary-wing category, it will be equipped with Britains’s Westland Sea King and Russia’s Kamov Ka-31 series.
Vikrant has been armed with 4X76mm Otobreda dual-purpose cannons and backed by several surface-to-air missiles. It will also be armed with digitally-controlled Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) along with Selex RAN-40L L-band early warning radar system.
The cessel will be conventionally-powered by 4X General Electric LM2500+ series gas turbine. It will be able to achieve speeds close to 28 knots in ideal condition and be able to operate 12,000 kms away from shoreline. A crew of 1,400 officers, sailors, airmen and mechanics will be deployed on its board.
Indian Navy is planning to have three Aircraft Carriers to guard its borders along the ocean. One each for East
ern and western Naval Commands and the third will pitch in as a replacement in case of maintenance or breakdown.
India is all set to receive INS Vikramaditya by early next year. The Rs 14,000 crore will accompany INS Vikrant and form an important component of Indian Navy's defence.
India's existing aircraft carrier, INS Virat is expected to be in the service till 2018.