India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) ‘Vikrant’ hit the waters for the first time as the Indian Navy began its sea trials recently.
“This is the largest and most complex warship ever to be designed and built in India,” stated an Indian Navy press release. “With the building of IAC-1, India joins a select group of six nations having the niche capability to indigenously design, build and integrate a state of the art aircraft carrier.
The basic design of the IAC has been developed indigenously by the Directorate of Naval Design of the Indian Navy and the entire detailed engineering, construction and system integration is undertaken by Cochin Shipyard Limited.
The IAC is the largest warship built in the country having a displacement of about 40,000 tonnes. The ship is a mammoth steel structure made of 21,500 tonnes of special grade steel developed indigenously and is being used in an Indian naval ship for the first time.
The Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) will carry the name INS Vikrant — the same as the Indian Navy’s first aircraft carrier that was decommissioned in 1997 after more than 35 years of service — once it is commissioned next year.
The aircraft carrier is a mini floating city, with a flight deck area covering the size of two football fields. It is 262 m long, 62 m at the widest part and height of 59 m including the superstructure. Vikrant has a top speed of around 28 knots and cruising speed of 18 knots with an endurance of about 7,500 nautical miles. There are 14 decks in all, including five in the superstructure. The ship has over 2,300 compartments, designed for a crew of around 1,700 people, including specialised cabins to accommodate women officers.
Once it is commissioned, INS Vikrant will join the Russian-origin INS Vikramaditya, at present India’s sole aircraft carrier. China is expected to have five carriers by the end of this decade. India’s sole aircraft carrier at the moment is the Russian-origin INS Vikramaditya, which entered service in 2013. The Navy is looking at deploying 36 multirole fighter aircraft that will cater to both the Vikramaditya and the new Vikrant.