With the $3 billion Vikrant, India joins a handful of countries to have commissioned one or more aircraft carriers or helicopter carriers, making it the third country to commission a domestically built aircraft carrier to date, after Britain and China. becomes a country. 3 years.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit the Cochin Shipyards in southern Kerala for the launching of the aircraft carrier.
John Bradford, senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said India’s commitment to the ship reflected “a long-term vision to maintain a world-class naval power.” .
“With looming questions about the viability of aircraft carriers in the missile age, major navies, including the United States, Japan, China and the United Kingdom, are doubling down on their investments in aircraft carriers. ‘It’s a race,’ said Bradford.
Vikrant joins the Indian fleet with the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, a converted Soviet-era aircraft carrier purchased from Russia in 2004.
Vikrant has a displacement of about 40,000 tons, slightly smaller than Vikramaditya and other US, Chinese and British aircraft carriers, but larger than Japan.
However, analysts praised its potential firepower.
Once the air wing is fully operational over the next few years, Vikrant will deploy up to 30 aircraft, including MiG-29K fighters (to be launched from a ski-ramp-style deck), helicopters, and surface defenses. Install the system. – Anti-aircraft missiles.
Powered by four gas turbine engines, it has an estimated top speed of 32 mph (52 kph) and a range of 8,600 miles (13,890 km).
“India is sending the message that it has power. Because it has aircraft carriers, it has air power that dominates the faraway Indian Ocean.”
Analysts said the new aircraft carrier and the destroyers and frigates that would eventually make up its strike group would also give India options further afield.
“India can influence and coordinate potential security solutions to regional problems. Having a naval task group of contributing open sea capabilities adds to India’s influence and choice. You don’t have to be involved in the multilateral response, but you can be there if you want,” said Carl Schuster, a former U.S. Navy captain who now teaches at Hawaii Pacific University. said.
The new aircraft carrier will allow India to play a larger role in military exercises with the Quadripolar Security Dialogue, or “Quad,” an unofficial alliance of the United States, Japan, Australia and India.
For example, US and Japanese aircraft carriers participate in the annual Malabar Exercises attended by Quad members.
Building Vikrant was not easy for India.
The government approved the design and construction in 2003 and the keel was installed in February 2009. She named the ship Vikrant, which means ‘courageous’ or ‘victorious’ in Sanskrit, and she was launched in August 2013.
But then there were delays. It had to redesign its capabilities, had problems securing aviation equipment from Russia, and then the Covid-19 pandemic.
Still, experts say India can increase its domestic shipbuilding capacity and learn from experience.
“They now have the expertise to build the next aircraft carrier faster and possibly with a better design,” Schuster said.
The Indian Navy is considering building a second indigenous aircraft carrier. While this remains in the concept stage, the new carriers are both her 65,000-ton class, about the same size as Britain’s HMS Queen Her Elizabeth and China’s second aircraft carrier, Shandong. There is speculation that it might.
China is seen as India’s main naval competitor in the region. China, which has been served by two airlines and her third far more advanced airline in the past year, is numerically and technologically ahead of India, but analysts say And India has the edge in terms of airline operational experience.
The Indian Navy began operating the carrier in 1961. The first aircraft carrier acquired from Britain also she was called Vikrant. The first her Vikrant she retired in 1997. A second British-built aircraft carrier, INS Viraat, she served in the Indian Navy for 30 years before being decommissioned in 2017.
“On paper, China’s new aircraft carrier has more capabilities than Vikrant in terms of payload and technology,” Singapore analyst Bradford said. , India has decades of carrier air force operational experience.”
Even with that experience, it could take a year or more for the Vikrant to become a fully operational combat force. This is typical of aircraft carriers. America’s newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald and Her Ford, will enter service in 2017 and will be deployed for the first time later this year.