Indian Navy takes delivery of first indigenous aircraft carrier

INS Vikrant
India’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier is slated to be commissioned into service as INS Vikrant on 15 August. The cost of the programme has ballooned to approximately US$2.5 billion. (Indian Navy)

The Indian Navy has taken delivery of the country’s first locally constructed aircraft carrier, the future INS Vikrant, at Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) on 28 July, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on the same day.

The MoD stated that the carrier, currently designed Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-1 (IAC-1), was handed over by the state-owned CSL following extensive user-acceptance trials which were conducted between August 2021 and July 2022. The hull was laid down by CSL in February 2009.

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 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 is powered by four GE LM2500 gas-turbine engines and has a standard range of about 7,500 nautical miles. It can attain cruise and sprint speeds of 18 kt and 28 kt respectively and will be operated by a crew complement of around 1,700 personnel.

It can also accommodate up to 30 aircraft in its air wing, including MiG-29K multirole combat aircraft and naval helicopters such as the Kamov-31 and MH-60R. The navy is evaluating new fixed wing combat aircraft under the Multirole Carrierborne Fighters (MRCBF) programme, which may eventually see Vikrant embarking either the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet Block III or the Dassault Rafale M aircraft.

“As part of the trials, various parameters of the carrier were validated by the Indian Navy, including the vessel’s propulsion systems, aviation facilities, and seakeeping and manoeuvring capabilities,” said the ministry.

IAC-1 Vikrant is expected to be commissioned in mid-August to coincide with celebrations for India’s Independence Day.

The Indian Navy currently operates INS Vikramaditya, a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier that entered service in 2013.

by Jr Ng