A Long Road Ahead
India launches its first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant

Defence Minister A K Antony with his wife Elizabeth Antony and CNS Admiral D.K.Joshi at Cochin dockyard during the launch of INS Vikrant (1) Marking a milestone in indigenous warship building capabilities, India launched its first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, on August 12. With this, India entered into the elite club of countries which build their own aircraft carriers such as Britain, France, Russia and the US.

At the launch in Kochi, marking the end of Phase-I (IAC-1) of the project, the imposing ramp of the 37,500 tonne Short Take off but Assisted Recovery (STOBAR) Carrier boasted indigenous design and built capabilities of the country. The ship has attained its designed length of about 260m and is almost at its maximum breadth of 60m. The main landing strip is ready. Over 80 per cent of the structure, containing about 2,300 compartments has been fabricated, over 75 per cent has been erected, all the major machinery, such as two LM2500 Gas Turbines developing a total power of 80 MW, the diesel alternators capable of producing about 24 MW and the main gear box have been fitted. Soon after Vikrant floated perfectly upright, she was launched out into the Ernakulam Channel in a pontoon assisted precision manoeuvre. Vikrant was moved out of the building dock to be positioned in the refitting dock where the next phase of outfitting will be completed.

Vikrant will now enter the second phase of construction which will see the outfitting of the ship, fitment of various weapons and sensors, integration of the gigantic propulsion system and integration of the aircraft complex (with the assistance of NDB of Russia). “The ship will then undergo extensive trials before she is handed over to the Indian Navy by around 2016-17,” said an Indian Navy statement.

Several concerns have already been expressed by the Chinese media as the launch of INS Vikrant would allow Indian Navy to wade into the Pacific Ocean, where the US and China are competing to dominate. “India’s first self-made carrier, along with reinforced naval strength, will further disrupt the military balance in South Asia,” said senior Captain Zhang Junshe, vice-president of China’s Naval Research Institute in an interview to state-run CCTV.
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