The maiden sea trials of India’s first indigenously-designed and built aircraft carrier were held recently. This will go a long way in boosting the indigenization of the Indian defense forces, especially its naval arm. As of now, India is one of the world’s biggest importers of military hardware.
The carrier is named after the INS Vikrant, which played a major role in India’s decisive victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war, which also led to the creation of Bangladesh. The INS Vikrant had been acquired from the UK in 1961 and was decommissioned in 1997 after an illustrious career.
When completed, the IAC-1 (Indigenous Aircraft Carrier) (INS Vikrant) is expected to weigh around 40,000 tons. It will carry Russian-made MiG-29K fighter aircraft and Kamov-31 Air Early Warning Helicopters. Over 76 per cent of the materials utilized on board the ship are indigenous, however, which is a big leg-up for India’s defense manufacturing sector.
The INS Vikrant is 262m long and has over 2,300 compartments. It can accommodate a crew of around 1700. The construction of this ship began way back in 2006, at the Kochi Shipyard in southern India. It is expected to be commissioned in 2022, in time for the celebration of India’s 75 years of independence.
How is this a Game Changer?
First, New Delhi’s options on land are limited, with China to the north and Pakistan to the west. Moreover, India is at a further disadvantage on land with the recent takeover of power by the Taliban in Afghanistan (in close cahoots with Pakistan).
Hence, it is the naval realm that offers India the best opportunity to spread its influence, as it has in the past, when Indian culture and customs circulated to places far and wide over the seas.