Ahead of the planned induction into the Indian Navy by August next year, for the second sea trials, India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) Vikrant set sail on Sunday.
INS Vikrant started her initial sea trials two months ago, on 4 August 2021 and is expected to be commissioned in August 2022.
With a maximum speed of 28 knots and equipped with a range of 7,500 nautical miles at a speed of 18 knots, the INS Vikrant is a 260 meters long and 60 meters wide vessel displacing 37,500-tonnes. A large crew complement composed of 160 officers and 1,400 sailors is to be received by the aircraft carrier.
Along with Mig-29K fighter jets and Ka-31 helicopters, the STOBAR aircraft carrier will be capable of accommodating up to 30 fighters and helicopters.
Vikrant will be around 67% the size of China’s existing aircraft carriers at 45,000 tons (full load) while the aircraft has been built at a cost of around ₹23,000 crores.
The construction of INS Vikrant propelled India into a select group of countries having capabilities to build state-of-the-art aircraft carriers.
For the initial airwing, a mid-sized MiG-29K Fulcrum two-seat carrier-borne fighter has been opted by India. On the other hand, more modern fighters are looked upon by the Indian Navy to replace the Fulcrums. The main contender is the HAL TEDBF (Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter).
A smaller number of interim carrier fighters with the Boeing Super Hornet and Dassault Rafale might be ordered by the Indian Navy in the meantime as talked about contenders.
The indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was announced to be delivered to the Indian Navy in December 2018 by the Defence Minister in 2015 while the procurement delays were reported to have been resolved and the carrier’s fitting-out was 62% complete. The latest reports indicate that India’s first made aircraft carrier will be commissioned in 2021.