At present, India has two aircraft carriers – INS Vikramaditya and INS Viraat, while it is planning to develop the third – INS Vishaal by 2030. The question arises why is India developing a fleet of aircraft carriers?
Robert Farley, writing for The National Interest – American bimonthly international affairs magazine, wrote that the rationale behind India’s carrier force development has three reasons.
The first is the support of a conventional war against Pakistan, which would involve strikes against Pakistan naval assets and land bases. Second, the carriers make the Indian Navy the preeminent force in the Indian Ocean, better able to command the area than any foreign competitor.
The third prong involves geopolitical competition with China.
Regarding Pakistan, Vikrant and Vikramaditya would struggle in strike operations because of limitations on aircraft weight, although they certainly would attract Pakistani attention. Meanwhile, the Indian Navy being the preeminent force in the Indian Ocean, Indian carriers will always have better access to bases and support facilities in the Indian Ocean than China, the United Kingdom, or even the United States, and the presence of the carriers facilitates the projection of Indian power and the management of trade protection.
The third and main reason, competition with China – Beijing has managed to leapfrog Indian naval aviation development in a relatively short period of time. Although China lacks India’s experience with carriers