Indian Navy Updates

INS Vikrant: All about India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier

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From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : INS Vikrant

Mains level : Indian navy modernization

The nation’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-1) , INS Vikrant is set to be commissioned on September 2, the Indian Navy has announced.

About INS Vikrant

  • The name ‘INS Vikrant’ originally belonged to India’s much-loved first aircraft carrier, a source of immense national pride over several decades of service before it was decommissioned in 1997.
  • The original ‘Vikrant’, a Majestic-class 19,500-tonne warship, which was acquired from the UK in 1961, played a stellar role in the 1971 War with Pakistan.
  • The IAC-1 is 262 m long and 62 m wide ‘Vikrant’ displaces approximately 43,000 tonnes when fully loaded, and has a maximum designed speed of 28 knots (about 52 km/h) with an endurance of 7500 NM.
  • It has around 2,200 compartments designed for a crew of around 1,600, including specialised cabins to accommodate women officers and sailors.

Why is it important for India to have an aircraft carrier?

  • An aircraft carrier is one of the most potent marine assets for any nation.
  • It enhances a Navy’s capability to travel far from its home shores to carry out air domination operations.
  • Having an aircraft carrier as essential to be considered a “blue water” navy — that is, a navy that has the capacity to project a nation’s strength and power across the high seas.
  • An aircraft carrier generally leads as the capital ship of a carrier strike/ battle group.

Why is it a big deal that this warship has been Made in India?

  • Only five or six nations currently have the capability of manufacturing an aircraft carrier, and India has joined this prestigious club now.
  • India has demonstrated the capacity and self-reliance to build what is considered to be one of the most advanced and complex battleships in the world.
  • India has had aircraft carriers earlier too — but those were built either by the British or the Russians.
  • The ‘INS Vikramaditya’, which was commissioned in 2013 and which is currently the Navy’s only aircraft carrier, started out as the Soviet-Russian warship ‘Admiral Gorshkov’.
  • India’s two earlier carriers, the ‘INS Vikrant’ and the ‘INS Viraat’, were originally the British-built ‘HMS Hercules’ and ‘HMS Hermes’.
  • These two warships were commissioned into the Navy in 1961 and 1987 respectively.

What indigenous components does the new ‘Vikrant’ have?

  • The indigenous content of the project is approximately 76%.
  • The warship-grade steel was indigenised through Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) in collaboration with Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL).
  • It includes 23,000 tonnes of steel, 2,500 km of electric cables, 150 km of pipes, and 2,000 valves.
  • It also includes a wide range of finished products including rigid hull boats, galley equipment, air-conditioning and refrigeration plants, and steering gear.

What weapons and equipment will the new ‘Vikrant’ have?

  • The new warship can carry up to 34 aircraft, including both fighter jets and helicopters.
  • It will be capable of operating 30 aircraft including MiG-29K fighter jets, Kamov-31 Air Early Warning Helicopters, MH-60R Seahawk multi-role helicopters, as well as the Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH).
  • Using a novel aircraft-operation mode known as Short Take Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR), the IAC is equipped with a ski-jump for launching aircraft.

What else will be there on the new INS Vikrant?

  • The carrier is designed with a very high degree of automation for machinery operations, ship navigation and survivability.
  • The carrier is equipped with the latest state of the art equipment and systems.
  • It boasts a fully-fledged state of the art medical complex with the latest medical equipment facilities..

Now that India has shown the capability, will it build more carriers?

  • Since 2015, the Navy has been seeking approval to build a third aircraft carrier for the country, which, if approved, will become India’s second Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-2).
  • This proposed carrier, to be named ‘INS Vishal’, is intended to be a giant 65,000-tonne vessel, much bigger than both IAC-1 and the ‘INS Vikramaditya’.
  • The Navy has been trying to convince the government of the “operational necessity” of having a third carrier.
  • Also, it is argued that now that India has developed the capability to build such vessels, it should not be whittled away.
  • The expertise gained by the Navy and the country over the past 60 years in the art of maritime aviation should not be wasted either.

Significance of the induction

  • Vikrant is the largest warship to have ever been built in India, and the first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier for the Indian Navy.
  • It puts India in an elite club of nations that have the capability to design and build these giant, powerful warships.
  • The indigenisation efforts led to the development of ancillary industries, and generated employment opportunities for 2,000 CSL personnel and about 13,000 employees in ancillary industries.
  • This bolstered plough-back effect on the nation’s economy. That is, it pushed all money back that it consumed.

 

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