INS Vikrant: Major Boost For Indian Navy; Nation’s First ‘Make In India’ Aircraft Carrier Set To Sail Next Year

India’s first homegrown aircraft Carrier – INS Vikrant – will be commissioned next year, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said during his visit to the Southern Naval Command in Kochi on June 25.

The decision is in line with the Modi government’s push for a modern and self-reliant defense industry under its ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Describing the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) as “India’s pride and a shining example of Atmanirbhar Bharat,” the defense minister said the “commissioning of the IAC next year will be a befitting tribute to 75 years of India’s independence.”

The IAC was the first of its kind, boasting 75% Indian-made content. “The project was originally approved by the NDA government and has made significant progress in the recent past despite COVID-19. Commissioning of the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) next year will be a befitting tribute to 75 years of India’s independence”, Singh was quoted as saying by NDTV.

“The combat capability, reach and versatility of the aircraft carrier will add formidable capabilities in the defense of our country and help secure India’s interests in the maritime domain,” Singh said.

At Project Seabird in Karwar, Rajnath Singh emphasized the government’s vision of a strong Indian Navy and its support of the Indian maritime interests. Project Seabird at Karwar is the Indian Navy’s largest base, on the west coast of the country.

“Our impetus to modernization, harnessing India’s indigenous industry and know-how, is a key priority. Forty-two of the 44 warships on order being built at Indian shipyards is a testimony to this”, he said.

India’s Defense Minister reviewing the progress of construction of INS Vikrant at Kochi. (via Twitter)

He lauded the Navy’s support to civilians during the Covid-19 pandemic in bringing back Indian citizens from overseas during Op Samudra Setu-I, and much-needed Liquid Medical Oxygen during Samudra Setu-lI, despite dangers of COVID-19 spread onboard warships.

“Our efforts are in alignment with the Prime Minister’s vision of SAGAR, or Security and Growth for All in the Region, and the wider goal of a Free, Open and Inclusive Indo-Pacific, to ensure peace and stability in the region,” he added. He also praised the work of the Indian navy during the recent cyclone Tauktae.

INS Vikrant

Earlier this month, The Eurasian Times reported that INS Vikrant would soon start sea trials —  the pre-induction phase — aimed at testing a vessel’s general performance and sea-worthiness. Once commissioned, the carrier will be the second in active operations with the Indian Navy, the first being the Russian-built INS Vikramaditya.

A file photo of INS Vikrant. (via Twitter)

Like Vikramaditya, INS Vikrant is also expected to carry around 30 fixed-wing and about 10 rotary-wing aircraft.

While no decision has been made as yet for new fighter jets, the Vikrant will initially carry the MiG-29Ks. 

The Vikrant had completed the basin trials towards the end of 2020. The IAC bears the same name as that of the legacy aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, a British-built Majestic Class carrier that was decommissioned in 1997 and subsequently scrapped in 2014. 

The old carrier had played a key role in enforcing the naval blockade of East Pakistan during the 1971 India-Pakistan war, also known as the Bangladesh Liberation was.

Written by Anshruta Banerjee & Kashish Tandon