India’s First Indigenous Aircraft Carrier Reaches Major Milestone With Completion Of Basin Trials; Here’s What’s Next For It 

by Swarajya Staff - Dec 1, 2020 11:12 AM +05:30 IST
India’s First Indigenous Aircraft Carrier Reaches Major Milestone With Completion Of Basin Trials; Here’s What’s Next For It INs Vikrant (Indian Navy)
Snapshot
  • The completion and induction of the aircraft carrier, also called INS Vikrant, has been delayed several times and by years.

    The aircraft carrier is likely to be ready for induction only by the end of 2021 or early 2022. Earlier, it was to be inducted into the Navy by 2018.

India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, called IAC-1, has completed basin trials.

During the trials, conducted at Cochin Shipyard Limited, the main propulsion plant of the ship, comprising four LM2500 gas turbines sourced from US-based GE Marine, was tested along with its main gear boxes, shafting and controllable pitch propellers.

The aircraft carrier’s deck machinery and communications equipment were also tested with their control systems during these trials.

The completion and induction of the aircraft carrier, also called INS Vikrant, has been delayed several times and by years.

Delays in recent months have been blamed on the Covid-19 pandemic slowing down work and, more importantly, delay in supply of aviation equipment from Russian manufacturers.

“The ship’s targeted delivery was affected due to delay in supply of aviation equipment from Russia,” Minister of State for Defence, Sripad Naik, had said in February, in response to a question in the Rajya Sabha.

Major structural and technical works of the carrier have already been completed, he had said back then.

The aircraft carrier is likely to be ready for induction only by the end of 2021 or early 2022. Earlier, it was to be inducted into the Navy by 2018.

IAC-1 (Indian Navy)
IAC-1 (Indian Navy)

With basin trials completed successfully and all its equipment proven, the ship is now set to sail for extensive trials at sea in the first half of 2021.

After the induction, the Indian Navy plans to deploy the ship at a private shipyard as the planned base in Visakhapatnam is not ready yet.

As an interim measure, the Indian Navy will lease a 260-metre berth at Larsen & Toubro’s shipyard in Kattupalli near Chennai for a period of eight years (2022-2030) to berth the aircraft carrier.

A new naval base at Rambilli in Andhra Pradesh, called INS Varsha, is likely to be ready by 2030. Apart from the aircraft carrier, the new base will also be home to Indian Navy’s new fleet of nuclear submarines.

When it is inducted, the Navy will use its MiG-29K fighters of Russian origin from the aircraft carrier. The fighter is likely to remain in service despite its low availability rate and the difficulties faced in maintaining it.

However, 57 new fighter jets may be procured by the Navy at some point under an effort which began in 2018.

Rafale, F/A 18 Super Hornet, MIG-29K (Russia), F-35B and F-35C and Gripen are likely to compete to fulfil this requirement.

The induction of the indigenous aircraft carrier into service will come as a major boost for the Indian Navy, which is currently engaged in dealing with growing and sustained Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region.

While the Navy plans to induct a third aircraft carrier to manage security challenges better, funding for it remains far from certain.

Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, had hinted at curtailing the Navy’s plan in the past.

“When we know that there would be two aircraft carriers there, and if the submarine force is dwindling, then our priority should be for submarines,” Rawat had said in the past. He has said that costs could be a major factor in deciding on the future of the Navy’s aircraft carrier fleet as these ships are “very expensive”.

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