Defence Minister to review the progress of Indian Aircraft Carrier: What is IAC-1 and why is it significant?

Indian Aircraft Carrier or IAC-1 is significant for India’s military maritime capabilities in the years ahead, particularly in the backdrop of the ever-expanding Chinese naval footprint in the Indian Ocean Region.

Created On: Jun 25, 2021 11:32 ISTModified On: Jun 25, 2021 11:32 IST
Indian Aircraft Carrier

The Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on June 25, 2021, will review the progress made on the construction of an indigenous Indian Aircraft Carrier which is also referred to as IAC-1.

The new carrier will be rechristened as INS Vikrant, in memory of India’s first aircraft carrier, after commissioning.

Reportedly, the Indian Navy expects that the indigenously built IAC-1 will be delivered by 2022. However, it has been claimed that the realistic delivery of the vessel is likely only by 2024.

The ambitious project of the Indian Navy, which was expected to be completed by 2018, has suffered a number of delays including the latest one due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is an aircraft carrier?

It is a warship that serves as a seagoing airbase, equipped with a full-length flight deck and facilities for carrying, arming, deploying, and recovering the aircraft.

Typically, an aircraft carrier is the capital ship of a fleet, as it allows a naval force to project air power worldwide without depending on the local bases for staging the aircraft operations.

About IAC-1: Key details

The IAC-1, being constructed at a cost of Rs. 3500 crores, was launched in August 2013 against its initial target of 2010.

The carrier, significant for India’s Naval defence, is being constructed by the state-owned Cochin Shipyards Limited (CSL).

The mammoth vessel is 260 meters long and has a displacement of 37,500 tonnes.

IAC-1: What can it do?

The Indian Aircraft Carrier or IAC-1 will be able to launch 30 aircraft including 20 fighter jets and 10 helicopters, once it is fully operational.

The ship will be compatible with the MiG-29K and LCA Navy aircraft.

It will also have two runways and a landing strip with STOBAR (short take-off but arrested delivery) equipment- a mechanism consisting of an arrester hook that helps land fighter jets on a shorter runway.

Why aircraft carriers are significant for Indian Naval Defence?

India is one of the few countries globally that boast of operating an aircraft carrier. However, IAC-1 is significant for India’s military maritime capabilities in the years ahead, particularly in the backdrop of the ever-expanding Chinese naval footprint in the Indian Ocean Region.

China, with the largest navy in the world with 350 warships, including two aircraft carriers, 50 conventional and 10 nuclear submarines, has also been helping Pakistan in building its maritime capabilities which is a clear indicator of the collusive threat on the high seas. The fast-paced construction of China’s Type-003 carrier is also a cause of concern for India.

But the addition of IAC-1 in the Indian Navy’s fleet will give the country much-needed leverage in its geopolitical fight for the open seas as well as will also provide the freedom of navigation on the international platforms.

Why India needs three aircraft carriers and how much it currently has?

Indian Naval Defence is in the dire need of three operational aircraft carriers- one each on the eastern and the western seaboards and one in the dock for maintenance.

However, with the decommissioning of INS Viraat in 2017, the Indian Navy is left with only one operational aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.

Currently, apart from 1 aircraft carrier, the Indian Navy has 140 warships,  10 destroyers, 11 corvettes, 14 frigates, 15 diesel-electric submarines, and one-nuclear powered submarine, in terms of the major combatants.

India’s plan for third aircraft carrier:

The plan of building a third aircraft carrier of 65,000 tonne for strengthening the Indian Naval Defence has been pending since May 2015 and is yet to be given an initial acceptance of necessity by the Indian Government.

This is when China is on a path of building an aircraft carrier and has an eventual aim of having 10.

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