NEW DELHI: The Navy is clear that India requires a third aircraft carrier as its economy grows towards the $ 5 trillion goals and says that it will move a formal case to the government for acquisition after gathering technical information.
The acquisition of a third carrier – India has the INS Vikramaditya in service and the INS Vikrant under construction – has been a sore point with the defense ministry citing a lack of funds and the Navy pushing the case to maintain an operational edge in the region.
Speaking on the issue, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh has said that airpower at sea is a critical requirement and is required on an immediate basis.
“As the Navy, we are absolutely clear of the utility of the carrier. Because air operations are integral to naval operations. Airpower at sea is required here and now. The Navy is all about reach and sustenance,” the Navy Chief said at his annual press conference ahead of Navy Day.
Elaborating, the top officer said that a Navy with extended reach is critical for a nation that wants to grow economically. “If you are a nation that is aspiration and you want to become a 5 trillion economy shortly and you want to do well you will have to go outwards and seek the world. The navy does not want to be navy tethered to shore. For that aircraft carriers are absolutely necessary,” Admiral Singh said.
The Navy chief said that a series of requests for information has been sent out to gather technical information, following which the force would move a case for acceptance of necessity – the first step in the acquisition process when the defense ministry gives a formal go-ahead.
The Navy has also taken up a case for a multi-role carrier-based fighter jet and has been working with DRDO for an indigenous platform. “We are working with DRDO on the twin-engine deck-based fighter offered to us. A lot of lessons have been learned from the LCA program and my hope is that the twin-engine jet can enter service by the early 2030s,” he said.
Aircraft carriers have been a priority area for the Navy which has kept the construction of its indigenous INS Vikrant on track despite the Covid crisis. The ship is expected to start sea trials by early next year.