The Indian Navy is set to begin sea trials of its new aircraft carrier named after the INS Vikrant which was decommissioned in January 1997.
The new INS Vikrant which is yet to be commissioned will be India’s first-ever Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-1) which is expected to begin sea trials in January 2021 along the coast of Karwar or Visakhapatnam as these two places are the only ones with facilities to accommodate it.
The Vikrant was initially supposed to be completed in 2010 and commissioned in 2016 but was later postponed multiple times due to several reasons ranging from construction delays to sea trial and warship trial delays to COVID-19 outbreak.
In 2016 the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) published a project plan from 2014 from the Cochin Shipyard Limited which suggested that the completion was expected in 2023 but the Indian Navy had hopes of early delivery and planned to partially commission the ship before the expected date.
In 2019, the Indian Navy had announced that IAC Vikrant would be fully operational by the end of 2022. While the media reports have suggested that the IAC-1 Vikrant is to be commissioned towards the end of 2021, no confirmation of the same was provided by the PRO.
The Indigenous Aircraft Carrier will be commissioned under the same name and motto of INS Vikrant which is taken from Rigveda.
The motto is ‘Jayema Sam Yudhi Sprdhah’ which roughly translates to ‘I defeat those who dare fight against me’ while the name ‘Vikrant’ means ‘courageous’.
IAC-1 Vikrant has a capacity to carry a total of 40 aircraft and is expected to carry MiG 29K fighter jets. The ship is also expected to carry Kamov Ka-31 or Westland Sea King helicopter.
The work on the design of the ship began in 1999 but the formal recognition of the commencement of the construction of Vikrant was laid down in February 2009.
The Indigenous Aircraft Carrier was floated out of the dry dock for the first time in December 2011 and launched in August 2013. IAC-1 Vikrant is 262 metres long and 62 meters wide and displaces about 40,000 metric tons.
The deck is designed with all facilities required to enable a combat aircraft like MiG 29K.
The ship has a combat management system which was developed by Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division in partnership with Weapon and Electronics System Engineering Establishment and MARS, Russia.
This Combat Management System is the first one to be developed by a private company and was handed to the Indian Navy in March 2019. IAC Vikrant is expected to have about 160 Indian Navy officers and 1,400 sailors onboard after being commissioned.