India on Friday formally commissioned its first home-built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, a culmination of 17 years of construction and tests. INS Vikrant is the largest ship ever built in India’s maritime history and houses state-of-the-art automation features. It has been built at a cost of Rs 20,000 crore at the Cochin Shipyard.
With the construction of ‘Vikrant’, India has joined a select group of nations such as the US, the UK, Russia, China and France, having the niche capability to indigenously design and build an aircraft carrier.
With the commissioning of INS Vikrant, India will have two operational aircraft carriers to bolster maritime security, the other being INS Vikramaditya. News18 takes a look at how the two warships stack up against each other:
INS Vikrant is India’s first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier. It has been constructed at a cost of Rs 20,000 crore at the Cochin Shipyard. The carrier has catapulted India into a select league of countries with domestic capability to build such large warships. The aircraft carrier has been built using indigenous equipment and machinery supplied by India’s major industrial houses as well as over 100 MSMEs.
Designed by the Warship Design Bureau (WDB), Indian Navy’s in-house organisation and built by public sector undertaking Cochin Shipyard Limited, INS Vikrant is christened after her illustrious predecessor, India’s first aircraft carrier which played a vital role in the 1971 war with Pakistan. The name ‘Vikrant’ means victorious and gallant.
INS Vikramaditya is a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier purchased by India from Russia in 2013 and was renamed in the honour of Vikramaditya, the legendary emperor. Originally built under the name Baku and commissioned in 1987, the carrier served with the Soviet (until the dissolution of the Soviet Union) and Russian Navies before being decommissioned in 1996 as it was too expensive to operate.
The deal for the aircraft carrier was signed during the previous NDA regime in 2004. It joined the Indian Navy on November 16, 2013 and was commissioned by then defence minister AK Antony in Russia. During the commissioning at the Sevmash Shipyard in the northern Arctic port of Severodvinsk, the Russian flag on the vessel was lowered and the flag of the Indian Navy was raised in its place. In a traditional Indian ritual, a coconut was broken against the ship’s side.
The carrier was escorted to India in a near two-month voyage by a group of warships to secure a safe sail to its base at Karwar on the Arabian Sea coast.
Size & Speed
The 262 metres long, 62 metres wide INS Vikrant displaces approximately 43,000 tonnes when fully loaded and has a maximum designed speed of 28 knots with endurance of 7,500 nautical miles.
INS Vikramaditya, the mammoth 44,500-tonne floating airfield, has an overall length of 284 metres and a maximum beam of 60 metres, stretching as much as three football fields put together. The warship is capable of operations up to a range of over 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km). With her complete stock of provisions, she is capable of sustaining herself at sea for about 45 days.
INS Vikrant has around 2,200 compartments, designed for a crew of around 1,600 that include specialised cabins to accommodate women officers and sailors. The ship also has a full-fledged medical complex with latest equipment including physiotherapy clinic, ICU, laboratories and isolation ward.
Standing about 20-storey tall from the keel to the highest point, INS Vikramaditya has a total of 22 decks and carries around 1,600 personnel.
The latter is powered by eight new generation boilers to enable the 44,500-tonne “floating steel city” to cut through choppy seas with speeds of up to 30 knots. It has provisions to generate power of 18 megawatts, enough to light a small town, and its plants can supply of 400 tonnes of fresh water every day.
The INS Vikrant will not have its own fleet of fighter jets on deck immediately and instead will rely on a few Russian-designed aircraft borrowed from INS Vikramaditya. For the first few years, MiG-29K jets will operate from the warship. INS Vikrant would later, however, be capable of operating air wing consisting of 30 aircraft, comprising MiG-29K fighter jets, Kamov-31 and MH-60R multi-role helicopters, in addition to indigenously manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). Aircraft landing trials on board INS Vikrant will begin in November and they will be completed by mid-2023.
INS Vikramaditya can carry over 30 aircraft, comprising an assortment of MiG 29K/Sea Harrier, Kamov 31, Kamov 28, Sea King, ALH-Dhruv and Chetak helicopters. The MiG 29-Ks provided significant boost to Indian Navy with their range of over 700 nautical miles, extendable to over 1,900 nautical miles with mid-air refuelling, and an array of weapons like anti-ship missiles, beyond visual range air-to-air missiles and guided bombs and rockets.
After almost nine years of negotiations the initial $1.5 billion contract for retrofitting the carrier and buying 16 MiG-29K, K/UB deck-based fighters was signed in 2004.