India’s first locally made aircraft carrier finishes maiden sea trials

The Indian Navy’s first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier, the future INS Vikrant, has successfully completed its five-day maiden sea trial on 8 August, the government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) announced on the same day.

“Trials [of the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-1 (IAC-1) Vikrant] have progressed as planned and system parameters have been proved satisfactory,” the PIB stated.

“The successful completion of maiden trials sorties, despite challenges faced due to COVID-19 pandemic and COVID protocols in place, is testimony to the dedicated efforts of large number of stakeholders for over a decade,” it added.

The navy said in a separate statement that IAC Vikrant’s sea trials in the Arabian Sea, which included the performance of its hull, propulsion, power generation and distribution systems, as well as auxiliary equipment, were “satisfactory”.

The 40,000 tonne, 262.5 m-long IAC-1 Vikrant is designed by Indian Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design (DND) and built by state-owned Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL). The carrier is designed to perform short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) aircraft operations and will undergo further sea trials over the coming months to validate its on-board equipment and systems before delivery to the navy.

The carrier has a standard range of about 7,500 nautical miles and can attain cruise and sprint speeds of 18 kt and 28 kt respectively, according to the PIB. It will be operated by a crew complement of around 1,700 personnel.

The navy also stated that IAC-1 Vikrant was originally expected to be handed over in the first half of 2022, but delivery is now being directed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence Day on 15 August 2022.

IAC-1 Vikrant earlier departed from Kochi port on 4 August to embark on its maiden sea trials. It was first launched in August 2013 and completed harbour and basin trials in December 2020, making it at least six years behind schedule.

The carrier will operate MiG-29K multirole naval aircraft, Ka-31 airborne early warning helicopters, MH-60R naval helicopters, as well as locally developed Advanced Light Helicopters.

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in further delays to the commissioning of Vikrant, with the MoD now saying that the vessel will enter service in the first half of next year.

Once fully operational, the carrier and its embarked air wing will enhance the navy’s ability to project air power over long distances, the PIB stated.

by Jr Ng