India plans to build another indigenous aircraft carrier in addition to the INS Vikrant, which is expected to join the country’s navy in 2016.
“The indigenous aircraft carrier [IAC] program is planned to be [a] continuing process over the next decade-plus, with the Indian navy’s medium-term aim being to have at least two fully operational and combat worthy carriers available at any given time,” says Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Nirmal Verma.
The second planned IAC could weigh about 65,000 tons and is likely to be christened INS Vishal.
Vikrant is under construction at the public-sector Cochin Shipyard in the southern Indian state of Kerala. The keel-laying for Vikrant, which will weigh about 45,000 tons, took place in February 2009.
Verma says the Indian navy has articulated a development plan up to 2027 that is “capability-based rather than threat-based.”
The Indian navy currently operates the aging INS Viraat, which has completed nearly 53 years of naval service. It was previously the British’s HMS Hermes before being purchased by India in 1987.
Viraat, which has been operated by the Indian navy for 25 years, is expected to be retired after Vikrant is inducted.
Meanwhile, the Russian-made INS Vikramaditya (formerly the Russian navy’s Admiral Gorshkov) is undergoing sea trials ahead of its induction into the Indian navy this December.
Regarding improved resources for the Indian navy, Verma says “there is an increasing realization that the destiny of our nation is entwined with our maritime destiny.”