Today, the Indian Navy made nautical history by accepting the prestigious Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) ‘Vikrant’ from Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), Kochi. The carrier is named after India’s first Aircraft Carrier, which played an important part in the 1971 war. The IAC was designed in-house by the Indian Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design (DND) and constructed by CSL, a Ministry of Shipping (MoS) overseen Public Sector Shipyard. Vikrant’s revival coincides with India’s 75th anniversary of freedom.
The 262-meter-long carrier, which is substantially larger and more modern than her predecessor, has a full displacement of close to 45,000 tonnes. The ship can reach 28 knots and is propelled by four gas turbines totaling 88 MW. The project, built with a total cost of close to Rs. 20,000 Crores, has advanced in three phases of a contract between the MoD and CSL, which were completed in May 2007, December 2014, and October 2019, respectively. The ships keel was laid in February 2009, and it was launched in August 2013. The ship has 76 per cent indigenous content. With the delivery of Vikrant to the Indian navy, India has joined a small group of countries that have the unique capacity to design and build an Aircraft Carrier in-house.
Vikrant was designed to carry a variety of fixed-wing and rotary aircraft and was developed with a high degree of automation for equipment operation, ship navigation, and survivability. The ship is capable of operating an air wing of 30 aircraft, including MIG-29K fighter fighters, Kamov-31 multi-role helicopters, and indigenously produced Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) (Navy). The IAC is outfitted with a ski-jump for launching aircraft and a series of ‘arrester wires’ for onboard recovery using a novel aircraft-operation mode known as STOBAR (Short Take-Off but Arrested Landing).
The role of the Indian industry
The warship is outfitted with a large amount of indigenous equipment and machinery, with participation from key industrial enterprises in the nation, namely BEL, BHEL, GRSE, Keltron, Kirloskar, Larsen & Toubro, Wartsila India, and over 100 MSMEs. Indigenisation activities have also resulted in the growth of auxiliary businesses, as well as the creation of job possibilities and a positive push impact on the economy, both locally and nationally.
The Navy, Steel Authority of India (SAIL) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) collaborated to design and manufacture indigenous warship-grade steel for the ship, allowing the country to become self-sufficient in warship steel. Today, local steel is utilised in the building of all of the country’s warships.
The Directorate of Naval Design applied several design iterations, including 3D Virtual Reality models and modern technical tools, to develop the carrier’s design. During the ship’s construction, CSL also modernised their shipbuilding infrastructure and increased efficiency.
The signing of acceptance documents by the Commanding Officer Designate of Vikrant, marked the delivery of Vikrant to the Indian Navy. The occassion saw attendence by the representatives of Naval Headquarters and Warship Overseeing Team (Kochi), the CMD on behalf of Cochin Shipyard Ltd, other senior Indian Navy officials.
CSL delivered Vikrant to the Indian Navy after extensive user acceptance trials between August 2021 and July 2022, during which the ship’s performance, including hull, main propulsion, PGD, auxiliary equipment, aviation facilities, weapon & sensors, and sea keeping & manoeuvrability, were proven satisfactory by trial protocols and system parameters.
The indigenous aircraft carrier will be commissioned into the Indian Navy as Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vikrant, strengthening India’s position in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and its desire for a blue sea Navy.
The indigenous aircraft carrier will be commissioned into the Indian Navy as an Indian Naval Ship – INS Vikrant, strengthening India’s position in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and its desire for a blue sea Navy.