Explained: The importance of IAC-1, the Made in India aircraft carrier
The Native Aircraft Carrier (IAC) 1, which will be called INS Vikrant once it enters service with the Indian Navy in about a year, began sea trials – one of the final phases of the trials – on Wednesday . What is this warship, and why is this project important to the country?
What is the IAC-1, because the warship is currently codenamed?
It is the first aircraft carrier designed and built in India. An aircraft carrier is one of a nation’s most powerful marine assets, enhancing a navy’s ability to travel far from its home coasts to conduct air domination operations.
Many experts consider an aircraft carrier to be essential to qualify as a “blue water” navy – a navy capable of projecting a country’s strength and power on the high seas. An aircraft carrier is usually the capital ship of an aircraft carrier attack / battle group. As the aircraft carrier is a valuable and sometimes vulnerable target, it is usually escorted through the group by destroyers, guided missile cruisers, frigates, submarines, and supply ships.
The IAC-1 was designed by the Directorate of Naval Design of the Indian Navy (DND) and is under construction at the Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), a public sector shipyard under the Ministry of Marine .
Why does it matter that this is an Indian made warship?
Only five or six countries currently have the capacity to build an aircraft carrier – India is now joining this elite club. Experts and navy officials said India has demonstrated its ability and autonomy to build what is considered to be one of the most advanced and complex battleships in the world.
The first Indian aircraft carriers were built either by the British or the Russians. INS Vikramaditya, currently the Navy’s only aircraft carrier commissioned in 2013, began under the name of Soviet-Russian Admiral Gorshkov. The country’s first two aircraft carriers, INS Vikrant and INS Viraat, were originally the British-built HMS Hercules and HMS Hermes before entering service with the Navy in 1961 and 1987 respectively.
According to the Navy, more than 76% of the material and equipment aboard the IAC-1 is native. This includes 23,000 tonnes of steel, 2,500 km of electrical cables, 150 km of pipes and 2,000 valves, as well as a wide range of finished products including rigid hull boats, kitchen equipment, air conditioning installations. and refrigeration and steering gear.
The Navy said more than 50 Indian manufacturers were directly involved in the project and about 2,000 Indians were given direct employment aboard the IAC-1 every day. Over 40,000 others were employed indirectly.
The Navy calculates that around 80 to 85 percent of the project cost of around Rs 23,000 crore has been reinjected into the Indian economy.
Why will this warship be called INS Vikrant?
The INS Vikrant, a 19,500-ton Majestic-class warship, was the name of India’s much-loved first aircraft carrier, a source of immense national pride during several decades of service before it was decommissioned in 1997. India acquired the Vikrant from the United Kingdom in 1961, and the carrier played a stellar role in the 1971 war with Pakistan which led to the birth of Bangladesh.
The Vikrant was deployed to the Bay of Bengal, and its two air squadrons of Sea Hawk fighter jets and Alizé surveillance aircraft were used in strikes against ports, merchant ships and other targets, and to prevent Pakistani forces from escaping via sea routes.
On Wednesday, the Navy hailed the “proud and historic day for India as the reincarnated Vikrant sails for his first sea trials …, in the 50th year of his illustrious predecessor’s key role in winning the 1971 war”.
What weapons and equipment will the new Vikrant have?
The Navy has not officially revealed specific details of the weapons and planes INS Vikrant will carry. However, the new warship is comparable to the existing Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, which is a 44,500-ton vessel and can carry up to 34 aircraft, including fighter jets and helicopters.
The Navy said earlier that once commissioned, the IAC-1 will be “the most powerful maritime asset,” which will operate the Russian-made MiG-29K fighter jet and early warning helicopters. Kamov-31, both already in use on the Vikramaditya.
The new Vikrant will also operate the soon-to-be inducted MH-60R Seahawk multirole helicopter, manufactured by US aerospace and defense company Lockheed Martin, and the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) built by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, based in Bengaluru.
Bulletin | Click for the best explanations of the day to your inbox
According to the Navy, the warship will offer an “incomparable military instrument with its ability to project air power over long distances, including air interdiction, anti-surface warfare, offensive and defensive counter-aircraft, war airborne anti-submarine and airborne early warning “. ”.
Now that India has the capacity, will it build more carriers?
Since 2015, the Navy has been requesting permission to build a third aircraft carrier for the country, which, if approved, will become India’s second indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-2). This proposed transporter, to be named INS Vishal, is supposed to be a giant 65,000 tonne vessel, much larger than the IAC-1 and INS Vikramaditya.
The Navy tried to convince the government of the “operational necessity” of having a third aircraft carrier. Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Karambir Singh told Navy Day last year that the navy could not remain an “attached force”. Navy officials have argued that in order to project power it is essential that India be able to venture far into the oceans, which can be best done with an aircraft carrier.
For the government to be convinced of the need for the IAC-2, however, a “change in mindset” is needed, Navy sources earlier told the Indian Express. The Chief of the Defense Staff, General Bipin Rawat, who is responsible for prioritizing procurement for the armed forces, spoke out against investing in another aircraft carrier and instead suggested that Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands could be developed as “unsinkable” naval assets.
But Navy officials have said that to defend the vast region of the Indian Ocean, persistent air power is needed day and night. A third aircraft carrier will provide the Navy with surge capacity, which will be essential in the future, they argued.
In addition, it is argued that now that India has developed the capacity to build such vessels, it should not be reduced. The expertise acquired by the Navy and the country over the past 60 years in the “art of maritime aviation” should not be wasted either.
While the United States Navy has 11 aircraft carriers, China is also aggressively pursuing its aircraft carrier program. It currently has two carriers, a third is being built and two more are expected to be in service within a decade.
Navy officials point out that even if India gives the green light to the IAC-2 project now, it will be more than 10 years before the warship is put into service.
20+ years in the making
1999: the “P71” project for the construction of an air defense vessel (ADS) is authorized
2003: The aircraft carrier project gets the green light from the government
2006: Navy claims ADS has become an Indigenous aircraft carrier
2009: Keel laid
2011: Floated in dry dock
Nov 2020: End of port and basin trials
August 2021: start of sea trials
Next: The shipbuilder will continue sea trials over the next 6-7 months; then hand over IAC-1 to the Navy for testing
August 2022: commissioning planned. Aircraft and component tests will follow.