Delay in getting certain aviation equipment from Russia pushed back the deadline for the construction of India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, according to the government.
Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Defence Sripad Naik said major structural and technical works of the aircraft carrier have already been completed. Officials said the 37,500-tonne aircraft carrier is expected to be inducted into the Indian Navy by 2022. The deadline to deliver the ship was 2018.
“The ship’s targeted delivery was affected due to delay in supply of aviation equipment from Russia,” Naik said. The Navy’s long-term plan is to have three aircraft carriers. At present, the Navy has only one aircraft carrier — the INS Vikramaditya, which is a Russian origin ship.
“Major structural and outfitting work of Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) has been completed. Major milestone activities including starting of main propulsion machinery and trials of power generation machinery have been completed,” Naik said.
The ship is expected to start sea trials next year and enter into service in 2022.
Asked whether the current inventory of carrier-based aircraft is insufficient for two aircraft carriers, Naik said the Navy acquires various ships, weapons, and aircraft in accordance with the maritime capability perspective plan.
Officials said the new aircraft carrier will initially operate MiG-29K fighter jets. In 2018, the Indian Navy kick-started the process to procure 57 multi-role combat aircraft for its carriers.
At present, six planes are compatible with the aircraft carrier — Rafale (Dassault, France), F/A 18 Super Hornet (Boeing, US), MIG-29K (Russia), F-35B and F-35C (Lockheed Martin, US) and Gripen (Saab, Sweden).