The Indian Navy has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “inspect” the nearly complete INS Vikrant also known as the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 1 around Independence Day, as it has been described as a “symbol of self reliance.
The 45,000 tons INS Vikrant being made by the Cochin Shipyards for the last 12 years is finally about to be completed. It is the first aircraft carrier to be indigenously made, and therefore a major feat for the Indian shipbuilding industry.
The invitation has been sent through the defence ministry and dates are being looked at for a PM’s visit. The PM could be present during the commissioning as well. The ship will be named after the previous INS Vikrant which was bought from the Royal Navy and served the Navy for many decades including during the 1971 war with Pakistan.
India already has the INS Vikramaditya which was once the Russian-built Admiral Gorshkov. There is already considerable discussion on what kind of fighter aircraft will be on board the new INS Vikrant.
One option will be the Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF), being developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment or ADE of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
The carrier will need about 30 planes and if they are not ready on time, an interim alternative will be looked at. There is talk about the Russian MiG-29K, the American F-18 and the French Rafale but no decision has been taken as yet.
There are MiG-29Ks on the Gorshkov and the Indian Air Force has the Rafale. Most American carriers with which the Indian Navy exercises during the Malabar, have the F-18.