By Aritra Banerjee
The Indian Navy is making plans to order an Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC)-2 of INS Vikrant size with modifications as the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya is preparing to leave the dockyard after a lengthy refit. The IAC-2 may be close to the time INS Vikramaditya leaves service, becoming its replacement. Indian Navy Chief, Admiral R. Hari Kumar, said that the Navy would continue to study the need for a larger and more capable carrier while placing a repeat order for the INS Vikrant-sized carrier.
Speaking at Aero India last week, Adm. Hari Kumar stated that designing a new carrier would take time as new technologies needed to be brought in, and the ship-building facilities had to be upgraded. Going for the repeat order of INS Vikrant would speed up the work, and the cost would also be less. The Indian Navy requires three aircraft carriers, and since the ship’s maintenance takes time, a third aircraft carrier must be ready and commissioned before INS Vikramaditya comes to the end of its lifetime.
Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) officials have expressed confidence that they could build another INS Vikrant-sized carrier with minor modifications within eight years once the order is placed. INS Vikrant was commissioned in September 2022 and is currently undergoing aviation trials. It is expected to be operationally ready by the end of 2023. The ship uses an aircraft-operation mode known as Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR), and it’s equipped with a ski jump for launching aircraft and a set of three “arrester wires” for their recovery onboard.
The Indian Navy had envisaged an IAC-2 with a displacement of 65,000 tonnes, Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) for launching aircraft, and full electric propulsion. INS Vikramaditya, which has been undergoing a refit since December 2020, had a fire onboard in July 2022 that delayed its return to active service, in addition to delays in supplies from Russia, for which CSL and the Indian Navy reached out to local industry. The vessel is now ready and will sail out anytime, officials said.