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INS Vikrant, also known as Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 1 (IAC-1),[10] is an aircraft carrier under construction by Cochin Shipyard in Kochi, Kerala for the Indian Navy. It is the first aircraft carrier to be built in India. The name Vikrant (Sanskrit vikrānta, literally "stepping beyond") means "courageous".[11] The motto of the ship is Jayema Sam Yudhi Sprdhah, which is taken from Rigveda 1.8.3 and can be translated as "I defeat those who fight against me".

INS Vikrant being undocked at the Cochin Shipyard Limited in 2015.jpg
Vikrant being moved for fitting out in June 2015
History
India
Name: INS Vikrant
Namesake: INS Vikrant (R11)
Owner: Ministry of Defence
Operator: Indian Navy
Ordered: 2004
Builder: Cochin Shipyard Limited
Cost: $0.5bn (planned), 19,341 crore (US$2.8 billion) to 2014[1]
Laid down: 28 February 2009
Launched: 12 August 2013
Completed: 2021 (expected)[2]
Commissioned: 2023 (expected)[3]
Motto: "I defeat those who fight against me". Sanskrit जयेम सं युधि स्पृध:
Status: Fitting out
General characteristics
Displacement: 40,000 tonnes (44,000 short tons)
Length: 262 m (860 ft)
Beam: 62 m (203 ft)
Draught: 8.4 m (28 ft)
Depth: 25.6 m (84 ft)
Decks: 2.5 acres (110,000 sq ft; 10,000 m2)
Installed power:

4 × General Electric LM2500+ gas turbines

2 × Elecon COGAG gearbox
Propulsion: Two shafts
Speed: 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph)
Range: 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km; 9,200 mi)[4]
Crew: 196 officers, 1,449 sailors (including air crew)[5]
Sensors and
processing systems:
Armament:
Aircraft carried:
Aviation facilities: 10,000 m2 (110,000 sq ft) flight deck

Work on the ship's design began in 1999, and the keel was laid in February 2009. The carrier was floated out of its dry dock on 29 December 2011[12] and was launched on 12 August 2013.[13] As of 2019, the ship is expected to start sea trials in February 2021 and enter into service in early 2023.[14] The project cost has escalated to 19,341 crore (US$2.8 billion) as of 2014.[1]

Contents

BackgroundEdit

In 1989, India announced a plan to replace its ageing British-built aircraft carriers, INS Vikrant and INS Viraat, with two new 28,000-ton Air Defence Ships (ADS) that would operate the BAe Sea Harrier aircraft. The first vessel was to replace Vikrant, which was set to decommission in early 1997. Construction of the ADS was to start at the Cochin Shipyard (CSL) in 1993 after the Indian Naval Design Organisation had translated this design study into a production model. Following the 1991 economic crisis, the plans for construction of the vessels were put on hold indefinitely.

In 1999, then-Defence Minister George Fernandes revived the project and sanctioned the construction of the Project 71 ADS.[15] By that time, given the ageing Sea Harrier fleet, the letter of intent called for a carrier that would carry more modern jet fighters. In 2001, CSL released a graphic illustration showing a 32,000-ton STOBAR (Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery) design with a pronounced ski jump.[16] The aircraft carrier project finally received formal government approval in January 2003. By then, design updates called for a 37,500-ton carrier to operate the MiG-29K. India opted for a three-carrier fleet consisting of one carrier battle group stationed on each seaboard, and a third carrier held in reserve, in order to continuously protect both its flanks, to protect economic interests and mercantile traffic, and to provide humanitarian platforms in times of disasters, since a carrier can provide a self-generating supply of fresh water, medical assistance or engineering expertise to populations in need for assistance.[17]

In August 2006, then-Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Arun Prakash stated that the designation for the vessel had been changed from Air Defence Ship (ADS) to Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC). The euphemistic ADS had been adopted in planning stages to ward off concerns about a naval build-up. Final revisions to the design increased the displacement of the carrier from 37,500 tons to over 40,000 tons. The length of the ship also increased from 252 metres (827 ft) to over 260 metres (850 ft).[18]

DesignEdit

It is 262 metres (860 ft) long and 60 metres (200 ft) wide, and displaces about 40,000 metric tons (39,000 long tons). It features a STOBAR configuration[19] with a ski-jump. The deck is designed to enable aircraft such as the MiG-29K to operate from the carrier. It is expected to carry an air group of up to thirty aircraft, which will include up to 24–26 fixed-wing combat aircraft,[20] primarily the Mikoyan MiG-29K, besides carrying 10 Kamov Ka-31 or Westland Sea King helicopters. The Ka-31 will fulfill the airborne early warning (AEW) role and the Sea King will provide anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability.[21][22]

 
A schematic diagram of INS Vikrant

Vikrant is powered by four General Electric LM2500+ gas turbines on two shafts, generating over 80 megawatts (110,000 hp) of power. The gearboxes for the carriers were designed and supplied by Elecon Engineering.[12][23][24]

The ship's combat management system (CMS) was developed by Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division in collaboration with Weapon and Electronics System Engineering Establishment and MARS, Russia. It is the first CMS developed by a private company for the Indian Navy, was handed over to the Navy on 28 March 2019.[25][26]

Carrier air groupEdit

India considered a number of aircraft for operation from its INS Vikramaditya and the planned indigenous aircraft carrier. India evaluated the Russian Sukhoi Su-33, but chose the lighter Mikoyan MiG-29K as Vikramaditya was smaller and lacked an aircraft catapult.[27] On 18 January 2010, it was reported that India and Russia were close to signing a deal for 29 MiG-29K fighters to operate from IAC-1.[28] In addition, the navy signed a deal for six naval-variants of the HAL Tejas.[29] In June 2012, Flight Global reported that the Indian Navy was considering the use of Rafale M (Naval variant) on these carriers.[30]

In December 2016, the navy announced that the HAL Tejas was overweight for carrier operations, and other alternatives would be looked at.[31][32]

ConstructionEdit

Vikrant is the first aircraft carrier to be designed by the Directorate of Naval Design of the Indian Navy and the first warship to be built by Cochin Shipyard. Its construction involved participation of a large number of private and public firms. The keel for Vikrant was laid by Defence Minister A.K. Antony at the Cochin Shipyard on 28 February 2009.[33][34]

The AB/A grade steel which was supposed to be supplied from Russia faced problems in delivery. To resolve this, the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL) and Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) created facilities to manufacture the steel in India.[12][21] Reportedly, 26,000 tonnes of three types of special steel for the hull, flight deck and floor compartments were manufactured at the Bhilai Steel Plant, Chhattisgarh and Rourkela Steel Plant, Odisha. Due to this, this is the first ship of the Indian navy to be built completely using domestically-produced steel.[35] The main switch board, steering gear and water tight hatches have been manufactured by Larsen & Toubro in Mumbai and Talegaon; high-capacity air conditioning and refrigeration systems have been manufactured in Kirloskar Group’s plants in Pune; most pumps have been supplied by Best and Crompton; Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL) supplied the Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS), which is being installed by Avio, an Italian company; the gear box was supplied by Elecon Engineering; and the electrical cables are being supplied by Nicco Industries.[36]. Fincantieri provided consultancy for the propulsion package while Russia's Nevskoye Design Bureau designed the aviation complex [37]

The keel for Vikrant was laid by Defence Minister A.K. Antony at the Cochin Shipyard on 28 February 2009.[38][39] The ship uses modular construction, with 874 blocks joined together for the hull. By the time the keel was laid, 423 blocks weighing over 8,000 tons had been completed.[40] The construction plan called for the carrier to be launched in 2010, when it would displace some 20,000 tonnes, as a larger displacement could not be accommodated in the building bay. It was planned that after about a year's development in the refit dock, the carrier would be launched when all the major components, including underwater systems, would be in place. Outfitting would then be carried out after launch. As per the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), sea trials were initially planned to commence in 2013, with the ship to be commissioned in 2014.[41][42]

In March 2011, it was reported that the project had been affected by the delay in the delivery of the main gearboxes for the carrier. The supplier, Elecon, attributed it to having to work around a number of technical complexities due to the length of the propulsion shafts.[43] Other issues resulting in delays included an accident with a diesel generator and an issue with its alignment.[44] In August 2011, the Defence Ministry reported to the Lok Sabha that 75% of the construction work for the hull of the lead carrier had been completed and the carrier would be first launched in December 2011, following which further works would be completed until commissioning.[45][46] On 29 December 2011, the completed hull of the carrier was first floated out of its dry dock at CSL, with its displacement at over 14,000 tonnes.[23] Interior works and fittings on the hull would be carried out until the second half of 2012, when it would again be dry-docked for integration with its propulsion and power generation systems.[4][12]

In July 2012, The Times of India reported that construction of Vikrant has been delayed by three years, and the ship would be ready for commissioning by 2018.[47] Later, in November 2012, Indian English-language news channel NDTV reported that cost of the aircraft carrier had increased and the delivery has been delayed by at least five years and is expected to be with the Indian Navy only after 2018 as against the scheduled date of delivery of 2014.[48] Work then commenced for the next stage of construction, which included the installation of the integrated propulsion system, the superstructure, the upper decks, the cabling, sensors and weapons.[49]

LaunchEdit

 
INS Vikrant during its launch in August 2013

In July 2013, the Defence Minister A. K. Antony announced that Vikrant would be launched on 12 August at the Cochin Shipyard. The ship was launched by his wife, Elizabeth Antony, on 12 August 2013.[50] Extensive sea trials were expected to begin in mid of 2017 and the ship will be inducted into the navy by late 2018.[47]

According to Admiral Robin Dhowan, about 83% of the fabrication work and 75% of the construction work had been completed at the time of launching. He said that 90% of the body work of the aircraft carrier had been designed and made in India, about 50% of the propulsion system, and about 30% of its weaponry. He also said that the ship would be equipped with a long range missile system with multi-function radar and a close-in weapon system (CIWS).[51] After the launch, Vikrant would be re-docked for the second phase of construction, in which the ship would be fitted with various weapons and sensors, and the propulsion system, flight deck and the aircraft complex would be integrated.[36]

Undocking and fitting-outEdit

 
INS Vikrant during its undocking in June 2015

Vikrant was undocked on 10 June 2015 after the completion of structural work. Cabling, piping, heat and ventilation works will be completed by 2017; sea trials will begin thereafter.[52] By October 2015, the construction of the hull was close to 98 percent complete, with flight deck construction underway.[53] The installation of machinery, piping and the propeller shafts was in progress by January 2016; it was reported, however, that there were delays in the delivery of equipment from Russia for the carrier's aviation complex.[54] By May 2017, the procurement delays had been resolved and the carrier's fitting-out was 62% complete, with trials of the auxiliary systems scheduled by late 2017.[5]


CommissioningEdit

The ship's completion and commissioning has been delayed several times. Vikrant was originally intended to be delivered in 2014 and commissioned in 2016. This was later postponed, with sea trials to begin in 2017 and commissioning planned for 2018.[55] In July 2016, the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) published a 2014 project plan, supplied by the Cochin Shipyard, that shows an expected completion date in 2023, though the Navy hoped to partially commission the ship before this date.[56]

In December 2017, the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba announced that the ship was expected to be commence sea trials and be commissioned in 2020.[55][57] In January 2018, Commodore Chowdhary, the principal director of naval design, announced the remaining procurement delays stalling Vikrant's construction had been resolved, and that the carrier would be completed and delivered by December 2018; it would then undergo two years of sea trials before its expected commissioning in October 2020.[58] In July 2019, Vice Admiral Saxena, Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition in the Navy, said that the ship was expected to be delivered by 2021.[59]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit