Indian Navy Updates

Why India needs a third aircraft carrier


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: Future Scope and Concerns associated with Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-2 (IAC-2)

Why in the news?

Recent reports from the media suggest that the Indian Navy’s persistent request for a third aircraft carrier is edging closer to reality, as Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) prepares to commence construction on an additional Vikrant-class platform weighing approximately 40,000 tonnes.

About Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-2 (IAC-2)   

  • The Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-2 (IAC-2) is a proposed second Indigenous aircraft carrier for the Indian Navy.
  • It is planned to be similar to the first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, but with some modifications.
  • The IAC-2 is expected to have a displacement of around 45,000 tonnes and will be equipped with STOBAR (short take-off but arrested recovery or short take-off, barrier-arrested recovery) technology.

Future Scope 

  • Operational Versatility: IAC-2 will enhance the Indian Navy’s operational flexibility, enabling it to conduct a wide range of missions including power projection, maritime security, and humanitarian assistance. The carrier’s advanced capabilities and modern technologies will ensure its effectiveness in addressing evolving maritime challenges.
  • Strategic Deterrence: IAC-2 will serve as a key deterrent against potential adversaries, bolstering India’s maritime deterrence posture and signalling its commitment to safeguarding its maritime interests. Its presence will reinforce India’s position as a major maritime power in the Indo-Pacific region, contributing to regional stability and security.
  • Technological Advancement: The construction and operation of IAC-2 will drive technological innovation and advancement in India’s indigenous defence industry. It will stimulate research and development efforts, fostering self-reliance and technological sovereignty in naval defence capabilities.

Concerns associated   

  • Budgetary issues: The estimated cost of constructing and operating IAC-2 is high, raising concerns about budgetary constraints and the allocation of resources amidst competing defence priorities.
  • Operational Vulnerabilities: IAC-2 may face challenges from evolving anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategies employed by potential adversaries such as China and Pakistan. The carrier’s large size and visibility make it susceptible to modern maritime warfare tactics, including advanced missile systems and submarine threats, potentially compromising its operational effectiveness.
  • Strategic Alignment: Questions may arise about the carrier’s role and relevance in addressing contemporary security threats and whether alternative defence investments would provide better national security and strategic deterrence returns.

Upgrading Capabilities as a Solution

  • Enhanced Airborne Capabilities: The Indian Air Force (IAF) can project maritime power using aircraft like the SEPECAT Jaguar IM/IS and Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters, which can carry advanced maritime strike weapons. The Su-30MKI squadron, equipped with BrahMos-A supersonic cruise missiles, enhances maritime strike capabilities.
  • Strengthening Island Defenses: Upgrading the military capabilities of the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago could create an A2/AD maritime ‘exclusive zone’, deterring Chinese naval activities.
  • Balanced Force Development: Diversifying investments to upgrade existing surface combatants, submarines, and air assets can provide a balanced approach to enhancing naval capabilities. Ensuring adequate funding for other critical areas like mine counter-measures, maritime patrol aircraft, and naval utility helicopters is essential for comprehensive maritime security.

Conclusion: While the IAC-2 represents a significant advancement in India’s naval capabilities, addressing financial constraints, strategic vulnerabilities, and diversifying investments in maritime and airborne assets are crucial for achieving a robust and balanced defence strategy.

Mains PYQ:

Q What are the maritime security challenges in India? Discuss the organisational, technical and procedural initiatives taken to improve maritime security. (UPSC IAS/2022)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch