India To Launch Its First Home-built Carrier, But There Aren’t Enough Aircraft On Deck

After 17 years of testing and building, India will formally commission its first aircraft carrier on Friday as it tries to catch up to its rival China and its far larger naval fleet.

However, the INS Vikrant won’t have its own squadron of fighter jets on deck; instead, it will depend on a few Russian-built aircraft that it will take over from the sole other carrier in India, the INS Vikramaditya.

The Vikrant, a 262 meter-long ship constructed at the state-run Cochin Shipyard NSE 1.35% in southern India, is to be equipped with more than 20 aircraft, and France’s Dassault and Boeing are competing to supply the Indian government with these aircraft.

Reuters contacted the Indian Navy and the ministry of defence, but neither organisation responded.

The carrier, which was created by the Indian Navy, is the biggest warship ever constructed in the nation. It can house a crew of about 1,600 people and fly a fleet of 30 aircraft, including fighter jets and helicopters.

According to India’s defence ministry, more than 100 smaller companies and six major industrial companies supply the equipment and machinery for more than 75% of the ship’s components.

After nearly a year of sea trials, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will commission the Vikrant on Friday.

“The ship’s performance during sea trials will serve as the final litmus test. Aircraft operations haven’t started yet, despite the fact that it appears to be performing fairly well in terms of stability. One expects it would be a complete success story “Admiral Arun Prakash, a former head of the Indian Navy’s naval staff, said to Reuters.

The choice of an aircraft became unrelated to the carrier project as a result of our customarily fragmented decision-making process, he explained.

“We knew the ship would probably be commissioned this year, and the selection and negotiation processes should have begun far in advance, perhaps three to four years earlier.”

According to recent Navy publications, the Vikrant is also missing a naval radar system, according to Prathamesh Karle, a naval analyst with the defence intelligence firm Janes.

Therefore, Karle told Reuters, “It would take some time for Vikrant to be operationally deployed along with its aircraft.”


A refurbished Russian ship called the Vikramaditya is home to the majority of India’s 40 MiG-29Ks, which are believed to be of Russian manufacture. Now, some of those combatants will join the Vikrant.

“The air wing is the primary weapon if an aircraft carrier is made operational, correct? Consequently, it will be a crucial shortcoming, “Kamlesh Kumar Agnihotri, a senior fellow at the National Maritime Foundation think tank in New Delhi, said.

The retired naval captain continued, “Otherwise, the aircraft carrier will not be able to be utilised efficiently.”

With the advent of the Vikrant, India may increase its maritime footprint and deploy an aircraft carrier on both its eastern and western seaboards, while the Indian navy still trails behind China, a major regional foe.

The two most populous nations in the world share a border, some of which is up for debate, and in 2020 there were fatal clashes between their military forces.

According to Karle, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy consists of about 355 ships, including two aircraft carriers, 48 destroyers, 43 frigates, and 61 corvettes.

In contrast to India’s smaller carriers, which use ski-jumps, China’s third aircraft carrier has a full-length flight deck and a catapult launch system.

One aircraft carrier, ten destroyers, twelve frigates, and twenty corvettes make up India’s current navy.

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