After completion of almost a year of trials at sea, India’s first home-built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant will be formally commissioned today by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Cochin Shipyard.
Built at a cost of ₹ 20,000 crores, the 45,000-tonne warship is named after its predecessor, which played a game-changing role during the 1971 war against Pakistan that liberated Bangladesh.
With the inclusion of INS Vikrant in the Navy, India joins a select group of nations, such as the US, UK, Russia, China and France capable of designing and building their own aircraft carriers.
Capable of hosting 30 aircraft on board, including MiG-29K fighter jets and helicopters, the 262 metres long and 62 metres wide warship can accommodate a crew of nearly 1,600. Though initially, INS Vikrant will have MiG fighters and some choppers, the Navy is in the process of procuring 26 deck-based aircraft, probably from Boeing and Dassault.
INS Vikrant which was in the works for over a decade makes a key addition to the Indian Navy’s arsenal. India will be able to deploy an aircraft carrier on both its eastern and western seaboard now, expanding it’s maritime presence. The current only aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya with the Navy is built on a Russian platform.
It was a long-standing demand of the Defence forces seeking three carriers- one each for the two main naval fronts, in the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal and one spare. India’s existing fleet includes one aircraft carrier, 10 destroyers, 12 frigates and 20 corvettes.
PM Modi will commission the aircraft carrier and will also unveil the new Naval Ensign at an event in Kochi. The Navy had said that the new insignia is befitting the rich Indian maritime heritage.