The Navy is seeking approval from the Ministry of Defence to get another indigenously built aircraft carrier after INS Vikrant, which was commissioned in September.

The Navy had been pushing for a 70,000-ton carrier, but the demand has been put on hold due to expenses and technologies needed on board. The case for having another 45,000-ton class carrier, same as INS Vikrant, is being processed. The matter will be taken up with the ministry, sources in the Navy said.

Race To Match China

India is racing to match China’s naval strength that has two operational aircraft carriers — Liaoning and Shandong

In July, it launched another one — Fujian — expected to be commissioned in 2025

A US Department of Defence report, ‘Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2021’, warns “People’s Republic of China continues to build a multi-carrier force”

The need for India to have a third carrier arises as these ships have lengthy maintenance schedules

The cycle of maintenance can lead to an absence of a carrier for two years

INS Vikrant was manufactured by Cochin Ship Yard Limited at Kochi over 13 years at a cost of Rs 23,000 crore. With the expertise gained, the shipyard has promised to do the next one in seven-eight years.

One of the key elements of the aircraft carrier is the launch mechanism technology it uses to allow a fighter jet to take off from and land on its deck. The Navy plans to stick to the short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) technique and not adopt the catapult take-off.

INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant both uses the STOBAR technology.

The decision on the warship engines will come later.

The sources said a delay in getting on with the next carrier could jeopardise the hard-earned skill of making such warships. The makers of specialised steel and suppliers of pneumatics, wires, cables and several parts have acquired skills as part of making INS Vikrant.