An aircraft carrier is a vessel that carries aircraft and serves as an airbase in the sea. In today’s article, we are going to look at all the aircraft carriers of the Indian navy starting from the old INS Vikrant to the new INS Vikrant.
Types Of Aircraft Carrier
Aircraft carriers are widely categorized into four broad categories depending upon the type of launch and recovery systems as stated below:
- CATOBAR: Catapult-assisted take-off barrier arrested-recovery. As the name suggests, this type of aircraft carriers has a catapult which helps the aircraft to take off and have arresting wires for recovery of aircraft. The catapult is usually powered by the steam produced in the boilers. However new technologies like the Electromagnetic launch system is under development or being implemented on a small scale. These aircraft carriers are also known as flat deck carriers. For example-Old IND Vikrant, Nimitz class, Charles de Gaulle, etc.
- STOBAR: Short take-off barrier arrested-recovery. This is similar to CATOBAR but has only one difference. Instead of the catapult, these have a ski jump which helps aircraft to take-off. Heavier aircrafts having a low thrust to weight ratio cannot take off from this setup. For example- INS Vikramaditya
- STOVL: Short take-off vertical-landing: This type of carrier has a similar launch mechanism to STOBAR. The aircraft which are operated on this type (e.g. F 35, sea harrier, and Yak 38) have vertical landing capability. E.g.- INS Viraat, Centaur Class, etc.
- Helicopter carrier: This particular type carries only helicopters for amphibious assault roles. E.g. Wasp-class.
INS Vikrant (R11)
INS Vikrant was the first aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy. She was bought from the British Navy in 1957 and was delivered in 1970. During the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war, she played a vital role. Her aircrafts bombed several cities in Bangladesh. Admiral SM Nanda used her wisely in the eastern fleet due to the submarine threat from Pakistan. PNS Ghazi attempted to sink her but was outwitted by the Indian Navy. She had the capacity to carry almost 20 fixed-wing aircraft. She had a maximum displacement of 19000 tons. During 1971 she operated Hawker Sea Hawk and Breguet Alizé.
Initially, she was a CATOBAR aircraft carrier. She was modified in 1989 with a ski jump ramp. She also received new Sea Harrier Jump jets. She was decommissioned in 1997 after three decades of glorious service. She was preserved as a museum but was scrapped in 2014. Her steel was used to produce Bajaj Vikrant bikes.
INS Viraat is the second aircraft carrier of the Indian navy. Previously she had served in the Royal Navy as HMS Hermes. She had a significant contribution to the Falkland War. She was transferred to the Indian Navy in 1987 where she served for almost three decades. She has the world record in the Guinness Book for being the longest-serving military vessel in the world. Perhaps, for this reason, she has earned the nickname of The Grand Old Lady. She has a maximum displacement of 28700 tons and can carry up to 26 aircraft including 16 harriers. She was decommissioned in 2017. Sadly, this majestic ship would be scrapped.
INS Vikramaditya is the Flagship of the Indian Navy. She is the lone aircraft carrier of the navy as of now. She is the largest ship in the fleet having a displacement of 45000 tons. She was a Kiev class carrier which was modified and then sold to India by Russia. She was commissioned in 2013 into the Indian Navy. She is a STOBAR carrier that carries 36 aircraft including 26 Mig 29 k fighters. She has a complement of 110 officers and 1500 sailors. She is a city of steel in the ocean.
The Mig 29 K onboard INS Vikramaditya is a mighty platform. Compared to its other Russian counterparts such as Su 33, it possesses a high thrust to weight ratio which enables it to takeoff with full fuel and payload from the ski jump.
The Indian navy has the tradition to name ships after its legendary ships. INS Vikrant follows the same tradition. It is the first indigenous aircraft carrier being developed and built in the country. She has a displacement of 40,000 tons and would carry 36 aircraft. She is expected to start her basin trials this month and expected to be commissioned by the end of 2021.