The Navy’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant has completed its fourth phase of sea trial and is set for commissioning in August. It’s a big achievement for India, as it joins an elite club of five or six nations which can manufacture such a warship

It was a big day for the Indian Navy. On Sunday, the aircraft carrier Vikrant successfully completed its fourth and final phase of sea trials and is likely to be commissioned next month.

In a tweet, the Navy said it conducted sea trials of major equipment and systems, including key aviation components. “Indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant successfully completed 4th phase of sea trials integrated trials of major equipment and systems, including key aviation equipment undertaken with further enhancement in performance, towards delivery of the largest indigenous warship in Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav,” it tweeted along with two photos.

The INS Vikrant is an aircraft carrier – the largest and most complex warship India has ever built. What is this vessel and why its induction is historic for India?

What Is The Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant?

The INS Vikrant – the 44,000-ton indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) – is the first to be designed and constructed in India. It is currently codenamed IAC-1 and will be called INS Vikrant once it enters service in the Indian Navy.

An aircraft carrier is an airfield at sea – a warship with a long, flat deck for fighter jets to take off and land. Often it is the flagship that leads a battle group and is escorted by destroyers, frigates, and submarines to shield it from any attack.

After its induction, the warship will be a key component of the Indian Navy’s push to establish itself as a “blue water” force, one with the ability to project its power on distant seas. It is especially important amid India’s bid to be a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region where it faces China, whose navy, is focused on aircraft carriers and has already inducted two vessels.

The Vikrant stretches 262 metres in length, exceeding that of two football fields and is 62 metre wide. Around 20 aircraft can be parked in the hangar.

With 14 decks, the ship has over 2,300 compartments with a special cabin for women officers and can accommodate 1,700 personnel. It has a top speed of around 28 knots (more than 50 kmph) and a cruising speed of 18 knots with an endurance of about 7,500 nautical miles, reports

“There is a fully functional medical complex inside the ship with two operation theatres. There is a kitchen to cater to the needs of at least 2,000 staff,” Major Manoj Kumar, the designer architect of IAC-1, told reporters in August 2021, when the first sea trial had begun.

According to him, the steel used in the ship is equivalent to three Eiffel Towers and the power used “can light up half of Kochi city”.

The construction of INS Vikrant began at the state-owned Cochin Shipyard in Kerala’s Kochi in 2009 and the cost came up to Rs 23,000 crore. The Indian Navy has said that more than 50 Indian manufacturers were directly involved in the project, and about 2,000 Indians received direct employment on board the ship every day. More than 40,000 people were employed indirectly.

Why An Indigenous Aircraft Is Significant To India

Over 76 per cent of the material and equipment on board the carrier is indigenous, including 21,500 tons of special grade steel developed indigenously and used in Indian naval ships for the first time.

The Union Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has said that the shipping yard “carried out the detailed engineering of the ship using advanced software which enabled the designer to get a complete 3D view of the compartments of the ship”. This is the “first time in the country that a ship of the size of an aircraft carrier is completely modelled in 3D and production drawings extracted from the 3D model”, reports media sources.

The Made-in-India warship is a feather in the country’s cap, as only five or six nations have the capacity of building an aircraft carrier.

What Aircraft Will The Ship Carry?

The warship has been designed to operate “an assortment of fixed-wing and rotary aircraft”. It will be carrying the Russian-made MiG-29K fighter jet, Kamov-31 early warning helicopters, the indigenously manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters and the MH-60R multirole helicopter made by the American defence major Lockheed Martin, according to the Indian 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-Air, Airborne Anti-Submarine Warfare and Airborne Early Warning”, it said.

Why Is It Named INS Vikrant?

INS Vikrant was India’s first aircraft carrier, which it acquired from the United Kingdom in 1961. It played a key role in the 1971 war with Pakistan which led to the creation of Bangladesh.

The original Vikrant was deployed in the Bay of Bengal, and its two air squadrons of Sea Hawk fighter jets and Alize surveillance aircraft were used in strikes on ports, merchant ships, and other targets, and to prevent Pakistani forces from escaping through maritime routes, according to a report in The Indian Express.

It was decommissioned in 1997. Now India’s first homemade aircraft carrier will carry the name of her illustrious predecessor.

Does India Have Other Aircraft Carriers?

The Indian Navy has only one operational aircraft carrier at present – the INS Vikramaditya. It served in the erstwhile Soviet and, then the Russian navy as Admiral Gorshkov before being inducted by India in 2013.

The country’s two earlier carriers, INS Vikrant and INS Viraat, were originally the British-built HMS Hercules and HMS Hermes before being commissioned into the Navy in 1961 and 1987 respectively.