INS Vikrant: India gets its first indigenous aircraft carrier

  • INS Vikrant represents a step forward in India’s ambitions to build a robust and self-reliant domestic defence sector. The warship has been built using indigenous equipment and machinery supplied by India’s major industrial houses as well more than 100 MSMEs

Shashank Mattoo, Saurav Anand
First Published2 Sep 2022, 05:28 PM IST
INS Vikrant is India's first indigenously-built aircraft carrier to be commissioned. (Photo: PTI)
INS Vikrant is India’s first indigenously-built aircraft carrier to be commissioned. (Photo: PTI)

NEW DELHI: Prime minister Narendra Modi on Friday commissioned India’s first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in Kochi, placing the country in a league of select countries with domestic capabilities to build such large warships.

Commissioning the carrier, built at a cost of 20,000 crore, Modi dedicated it to Chhatrapathi Shivaji and said India has shed its colonial past. “INS Vikrant is the pride of every Indian. If challenges are large, obstacles are many, then the answer is INS Vikrant," the prime minister said at the function organised at the Cochin Shipyard Limited in Kochi.

INS Vikrant represents a step forward in India’s ambitions to build a robust and self-reliant domestic defence sector. The warship has been built using indigenous equipment and machinery supplied by India’s major industrial houses as well more than 100 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). 

Abhijit Singh, a former naval officer and senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, called it a “landmark achievement” for India’s indigenisation ambitions. "It is significant for two reasons. First, the warship reflects a validation of India’s warship design capabilities. Second, the task of assembling a warship made of a range of separately manufactured equipment is a huge task for any shipyard to manage”.

However, complete indigenisation remains an unfulfilled goal. To push the this, the warship grade steel required for construction of the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier or IAC was successfully indigenised through SAIL in collaboration with Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL) and the Indian Navy. 

Singh said, while “India has done very well on certain components like float capabilities, we still import a great deal of our sensors and other fighting capabilities”.

The addition of a second aircraft carrier also changes the strategic landscape in the Indian Ocean. 

Harsh V Pant, a professor of international relations at King’s College London, said, “the new warship reflects a coming of age of Indian naval power in the Indian Ocean”. 

Singh echoed and said a new carrier “will help significantly in regional power projection and maritime diplomacy with partners in the region”.

Experts noted that the aircraft carrier comes as a step towards countering China’s influence in the Indian Ocean. However, while India’s naval capability has been enhanced, Beijing’s shadow looms large. 

Singh opined that India “still has some distance to go before we catch up with the Chinese.” 

The launch of China’s third aircraft carrier in recent months has added to Beijing’s military heft in the region.

"The Indian Ocean”, Pant argued, “is a highly contested space and adding one aircraft carrier will not radically shift the balance of power in our favor”. “However”, he added, “it is a significant demonstration of India’s intent and newfound capabilities”

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First Published:2 Sep 2022, 05:28 PM IST
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