By the end of August, the Indian Navy will have another aircraft carrier in its fleet. At the end of last month, the Indian Aircraft Carrier-1 (IAC) “Vikrant” was handed over to the Indian Navy by Cochin Shipyard. No date has been officially announced, however, sources say the carrier will be commissioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month in a ceremony.
About IAc-1 Vikrant
The IAC -1 `Vikrant’ was designed in India and its construction, which began in 2009, was not without risk. Initially scheduled for the end of the decade, this date had to be postponed due to delays in the supply of specialized equipment purchased from Russia and health precautions linked to the Covid-19 epidemic. In the end, this ship was only able to set sail in August 2021.
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The carrier’s delivery is ahead of its new schedule and does not have a dedicated air wing. So he has to share the MiG-29k fighter jet flown from INS Vikramaditya. Until the air wing is firmed up, the aircraft carrier will be familiarized and improved.
The choice is between the French Rafale M from Dassault Aviation and the F/A-18E Super Hornet. Financial Express Online reported earlier that the Rafale-M can be immediately delivered, up to four numbers, for training purposes until the production aircraft arrive. The F/A-18E Super Hornet was the most successful carrier aircraft of its time. The Russian MiG-29k seems to have technical problems, which is why the carrier wing has been delayed.
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IAC-1 with a displacement of about 40,000 tons, a length of 262 meters and a width of 60 meters is in STOBAR configuration. This means that it is equipped with a springboard to allow its carrier aircraft to take off. It can accommodate around thirty aircraft, including 26 MiG-29K fighters, thanks to four General Electric (GE) LM2500+ gas turbines which enable it to reach a maximum speed of 28 knots (18 knots at cruising speed). The Indian Navy has the option to equip it with Russian Kamov Ka-31 helicopters, indigenous ALH `Dhruv’ and Sikorsky MH-60 Romeo Seahawk anti-submarine helicopters from the United States.
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Almost 75% of its components on IAC-1 “Vikrant” are of Indian origin. There are GE LM2500 gas turbines from the United States, aviation-related equipment from Russia, and electronics from Israel.
Financial Express Online reported earlier that in the future, the Indian Navy hopes to have a third 65,000 ton aircraft carrier in CATOBAR configuration (with catapults and plugs) in the future. The catapults, which can be steam or electromagnetic, are those of French and American aircraft carriers, and China is also said to have launched such an aircraft carrier.
After the withdrawal of INS Viraat in 2017, the Indian Navy’s naval air capabilities relied solely on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, commissioned in 2013 after being acquired from Russia (under the name “Admiral Gorshkov”) and refurbished, not without difficulty.
Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Aerospace and Defense Analyst Girish Linganna says: “There are reports of a third aircraft carrier. This three-carrier format, which would allow India to have two ready-to-use carrier battle groups, was decided upon as it appeared that maritime issues were constantly gaining importance under the effect the globalization of trade and the rise of China. . Until then, New Delhi’s priority had been the challenges posed at its borders by Pakistan and China. This is therefore the so-called “double front” strategy. Therefore, the decision to strengthen its naval capabilities marked a turning point.
“The concern for the Indian Navy is that some technologies needed for a next-generation aircraft carrier are currently lacking. India”.
“A CATOBAR configuration also means that even if India can build the hull, it will depend on the Americans or the French for the catapult system. It requires an enormous amount of energy that can only be met by nuclear propulsion. India already has naval nuclear propulsion for the INS Arihant-class nuclear submarines, and it could be modified for the aircraft carrier. China is building a conventionally powered CATOBAR carrier, and we will see how it goes,” says Girish Linganna.
According to him, “if it is built, it is only planned for 2040. In the meantime, the Rafale-M and the F/A-18E Super Hornet would have reached the end of their life, and India could start deploy its carrier-specific fighter, the HAL Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TBDEF). We could also see India designing a 5th generation deck-based fighter based on the TBDEF and the Medium Advanced Combat Aircraft (AMCA) designed for the Indian Air Force.
Adding: “A full-fledged CATOBAR carrier with aircraft can cost around $20 billion and take a decade to build. This makes New Delhi wonder if it is worth it or if it is spending the money on other major military procurement needs.
According to him, “Given the current tensions with China, the third aircraft carrier is considered a vital necessity for the Indian Navy. But with the Indian government delaying its decision, the chances of a favorable decision for the navy could diminish.