The launch of India’s first locally built US$5 billion aircraft carrier is a major naval milestone as China’s growing assertiveness is drawing world powers in the region.
When the INS Vikrant comes into full service in 2018, India will become the fifth nation to have designed and built its own aircraft carrier, pushing ahead of China to join the club that includes Britain, France, Russia and the United States.
India launched its first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, making an entry into a small club of countries capable of designing and building a carrier of this size and capability. So far, only America, Russia, UK and France have designed and built carriers over 40,000-tonne.
Defense Minister A. K. Antony‘s wife Elizabeth launched the 37,500 tonne carrier at the Cochin Shipyard in Kochi in the south of India close to four-and-a-half years after its keel was laid by defense minister Anthony.
It will take India one step closer to realizing its “blue-water navy” dream of operating two full-strength combat battle groups before the end of the decade. It will be equipped with modern weapons systems including long range surface-to-air missiles (LR SAM) and close-in weapons system (CIWS).
INS Vikrant will be 260 meters in length and 60 meters in breadth and can attain speeds in excess of 28 knots (56 kilometers per hour)
Underlining the complexity of the project, the Vikrant’s launch was delayed by three years because of slow construction and a problematic gearbox. More trials will be conducted and the warship will be fully fitted out before it is inducted into the navy by around 2018.
In the meantime, India also announced its first indigenously-built nuclear submarine was ready for sea trials, a key step before it becomes fully operational.
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