With China flexing its muscles, the Narendra Modi government is now looking favourably at the Navy’s need for a third aircraft carrier as the “situation of peace” has changed, ThePrint has learnt.
Top government sources told ThePrint that while the current focus is on submarines, for which the government will soon set the ball rolling for six more conventional submarines under Project 75I, there is a change in the government’s position regarding a third aircraft carrier.
“The times have changed. Earlier it was time of peace and now it is not,” a top government source said, in what appeared to be a reference to the current tensions between India and China in Eastern Ladakh.
The Indian Navy operates the Russian-built INS Vikramaditya and a second indigenously-built carrier is in the final stages of construction. But even though the Navy has been firm on its plan to have a second indigenous aircraft carrier, the government wasn’t so convinced until now.
Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat in February had said that the approval for a third carrier would take time as, according to him, the Navy needed submarines and not aircraft carriers as “anything on surface can be picked up by satellites and knocked off by missiles”.
Explaining the new thinking, government sources said there is no doubt that future operations and requirements have to be kept while planning.