INS Vikrant inducted on September 2, Indian Navy gets a boost amidst China’s threat

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INS Vikrant being escorted by a smaller ship.

Indian Navy will get INS Vikrant, the country’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier, formally on September 2. The timing happens to be crucial, when China is building up its presence in the Indian Ocean region.

Here are 10 important details behind the big move

  1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the chief guest when the 45,000-tonne warship would be commissioned. Multiple phases of sea trials have been completed since August 21 last year. Aviation trials will be held after the navy has its command.

  2. At present, India has only one aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, which is built on a Russian platform. Defence forces have been seeking three carriers in all — one in spare besides one each for the two main naval fronts, in the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal.

  3. INS Vikrant — the largest warship to have been built in India — is named after its predecessor, which played a key role during the 1971 war against Pakistan for the liberation of Bangladesh. “The induction and reincarnation of ‘Vikrant’ is… also our humble tribute to the sacrifices made by our freedom fighters for the independence of the nation and our brave soldiers during the 1971 war,” the navy said.

  4. Built at a cost of Rs 20,000 crore, it’s designed by the Navy’s Warship Design Bureau and built by the public-sector manufacturer Cochin Shipyard Limited. With it, India joins a a select group of nations, such as the US, UK, Russia, China and France, that can  design and build their own aircraft carriers.

  5. The warship was in the works for over a decade. There were three stages of contract between the Defence Ministry and Cochin Shipyard Limited, starting from 2007. The ship’s keel was laid in February 2009.

  6. It will be able to have 30 aircraft on board, including MiG-29K fighter jets and helicopters, “in addition to indigenously manufactured advanced light helicopters (ALH) and light combat aircraft (LCA)”, the Navy said. To start with, it’ll have the MiG fighters and some helicopters. The Navy is in the process of procuring 26 deck-based aircraft, having narrowed down to some Boeing and Dassault aircraft.

  7. At 262 metres long and 62 metres wide, it can house a crew of 1,600, and has around 2,200 compartments, including specialised cabins for woman officers and sailors. It has a medical complex with latest equipment, including several laboratories, CT scanner, X-ray machines, and isolation ward.

  8. China has been aggressively expanding its strength at sea. Recent satellite images sourced by NDTV indicate that China’s naval base in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, is now fully operational and supports warships deployed in the Indian Ocean region. India was also worried recently when a Chinese “spy” ship docked in Sri Lanka.

  9. Indian Navy sees the new warship as a key addition to its arsenal. “[It] can be utilised for power projection and ensuring maritime security in the Indian Ocean region, and can provide for credible deterrence,” said Vice Admiral MA Hampiholi, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Naval Command. 

  10. The officer who will command INS Vikrant is Commodore Vidhyadhar Harke. “The crew is very close to my heart. From the first sailing itself, the majority of systems were operated by my crew. Over a period of time they have mastered these systems,” he told NDTV.

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