Indian Navy Bites The Bullet On Aircraft Carrier Question; Plans Repeat Order Of Vikrant-Sized Carrier Instead Of A 65,000 Tonner
Indian Navy is planning to go for a repeat order of a modified INS Vikrant-sized carrier for the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 2 (IAC-2) instead of the larger 65,000-tonne carrier, The Hindu reported.
The Indian Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar on the sidelines of Aero India 2023 said, “While placing a repeat order for the INS Vikrant-sized carrier, the Navy will continue to study the need for a larger and more capable carrier”.
The Navy Chief added, “If we have to design a new carrier, it will take time and we need to bring in new technologies because the present arresting gear and catapult system is undergoing changes. It will be an entirely new design and the ship-building facilities have also to be upgraded. So we thought, if we went for the repeat order of [INS] Vikrant, the work would start very soon.”
About modifications that could be done on the new INS Vikrant-sized carrier, he said, “the case will go faster, work can start immediately, and cost will also be a little less, and we can make some improvements”.
He said that these modifications will also include new technologies like launching and recovering drones from the carrier, increasing the carrier’s operational capabilities.
Adding further, the Navy Chief said, “the earlier plan was that the IAC-2 should be bigger than IAC-1. INS Vikrant’s size is around 44,000 tonnes and the proposed IAC-2 was to have a displacement of around 65,000 tonnes”.
“The Indian Navy requires three aircraft carriers because when the ship undergoes maintenance, it takes time given its very big size, and there may also be delays.
“Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) has acquired considerable expertise in building an aircraft carrier with INS Vikrant that would not go idle with a repeat order,” Admiral Kumar said.
“So, we are of the view that we will go for a repeat order with improved capabilities and, in the meantime, we will study if we need to go for a larger carrier,” Admiral Kumar added.
Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) the builder of INS Vikrant has earlier said that they can deliver another Vikrant-sized carrier in eight years.
However, due to inevitable delays in the timelines of these large projects, the new carrier could become a direct replacement for INS Vikramaditya, if it is ready by the time INS Vikramaditya retires, which is likely sometime after the mid 2030s.
Meanwhile, INS Vikrant, which was commissioned in the Navy in September 2022, is currently undergoing trials.
Just last week, videos of Naval Tejas and Mig-29Ks landings and take-offs from the carrier's flight deck went viral.
The INS Vikrant, which measures 262 meters in length, 62 meters in width, and 59 meters in height, has been designed to accommodate a crew of around 1,700 people, including specialised cabins for women officers.
It boasts a top speed of 28 knots and a cruising speed of 18 knots, with an endurance of 7,500 nautical miles.
Earlier, reports predicted that the INS Vikrant could become fully operational by June 2023, after its flight trials are complete in the next four months.
The Indian Navy currently operates over 40 MiG-29K jets. The air wing of INS Vikrant will be able to carry 30 MiG-29K fighter jets, according to officials.
The Navy is in the process of procuring 26 deck-based aircraft for INS Vikrant. Two fighter jets, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and French aerospace major Dassault Aviation’s Rafale M are competing for procurement.
Some reports suggests that the selection of French Dassault Rafale is almost final and a report has been sent to the Ministry of Defence identifying it as the choice of the Indian Navy.
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