August 18, 2013

Launch of INS Vikrant, India's first locally built aircraft carrier

INS Vikrant, India's first locally built carrier, at its launch on August 12, 2013. The lack of an island and other essentials indicate it will need 3 or 4 more years until construction ends. Then 3 to 4 years of trials before it goes into service.
There are some in Pakistan whose knee-jerk reaction is to match what India has in every weapon category. As indicated below aircraft carriers are very large and expensive. They are of greater use for long range power projection than defensive uses. A country also needs a minimum of two or three. As all Pakistani ports and exit points are in easy reach of Indian airpower Pakistani carriers would be highly vulnerable in wartime. The opportunity costs suggest Pakistan would be better off building more submarines than an aircraft carrier or three.

"India launches first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant"

On August 12, 2013 India launched its first locally built aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, of 37,500 tonnes at Kochi shipyard, on India's southern west coast. It is almost four-and-a-half years after its keel was laid. Vikrant will probably be in regular service in 2020.

Vikrant will carry 12 MiG-29Ks and eventually 8 HAL Tejas light fighters, as well as 10 medium-large helicopters. Launch of jets will be by ski-jump and landing by conventional arrestor gear - similar to Russia's Admiral Kuznetsov.

One excellent comment from Bob at is:

"The project has suffered terrible delays and monstrous cost overruns from the beginning. Designing a carrier from scratch is no easy feat, but toss in India’s lack of experience constructing large warships and notoriously corrupt & inefficient military procurement process, and it was headed for trouble from the start. Add to this the problems with system integration that come from sourcing material, weapons, electronics, propulsion, power generation, design work, aircraft, and other parts of the weapons system from hundreds of different companies in a half dozen different countries around the world. And top it off with the fact that some of these countries do not get along, and they speak half dozen different languages, and it is a bit of a minor miracle that the thing got built at all.

India has never designed a large warship before, let alone a carrier with rather unique design requirements. The nations with conventional carrier experience do not build ski-ramp carriers; the nations that build ski ramp carriers for Harrier-type planes do not build ones large enough to operate high-performance fixed wing aircraft like the MiG-29, Rafale, or F-18 from. Russia comes closest, but when India started this process in 1999 the Admiral Kuznetsov design was already 20 years old, and the ship had spent more time under repair that it had at sea. Not that the Russians have ever really mastered carrier operations even now, but back then the whole Russian carrier project looked like a dud.

Once they got past the design weirdness, there were monumental construction problems. India signed a big contract with Russia to purchase all the shipbuilding grade structural steel, three basic types for use in various parts of the hull, over 26,000 tons to flow to the project in a steady stream over several years. But Russia proved incapable of delivering it at all, let alone on time and on budget. So there was a long and costly delay while India basically built three new steel mills and set up a shipbuilding grade steel industry from scratch to meet the needs of the project. No small task considering not only the quantity, but also the quality needed as compared to the usual rebar-quality re-rolled steel that comes out of Indian mills.

Then actual construction started, but there was no dock large enough for the ship. So they started in a dock too small for the hull- it would have to be assembled to about 20,000 tons out of about half of the over 850 lift blocks, floated out, and finished in a larger dock that was to be built. But changes in plans resulted in the ship being floated out at only about 17,000 tons, with construction continuing in a basin until a large dock was finally finished, which allow the ship to be out of the water for propulsion installation.

Then the Indian company providing the main gears dropped the ball and design took much longer than expected. Then there was an issue with the generators, which if I recall correctly were destroyed in some train accident, and the replacements were both delayed and initially installed incorrectly. System integration was not seamless either, as the turbines and control systems were from other countries.

Now issues are popping up with the planned integration of the radars, combat information systems, weapons, electronics, and other systems, as they were all purchased from different nations and not really designed to work together.

All this adds up to five years worth of delays between keel laying and commissioning, and a ship that costs something like 3 times initial estimates.

So the fact that India did not just walk away, and has instead decided to build the second in the series without any foreign help, shows just how committed they are, with budgetary concerns taking a back seat to getting the job done."


jbmoore said...

I am not sure why India is wasting its money on aircraft carriers. It should be developing a submarine force with plenty of tactical SLCMs. That should be where both countries will develop their navies for now. The Indian aircraft carrier will be a nice target for Pak aircraft and subs and difficult to defend. The arming of these two countries does not bode well for the region. It will hurt India's economic competitiveness with China and other Asian nations.

Pete said...


India is building carriers for many reasons: to project power throughout the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific, compete with China's carrier program, vanity of senior naval officers, India's great power symbolism. Like most countries' carrier programs real value and vulnerability are ignored.



laldo said...

its all about power or else other nation takes over you,with deployment of 2 aircraft carriers with 60 odd aircrafts will be able to wipe the pakistan naval bases & major cities that will result in nuclear attack by pakistan.hope allah bless them

Pete said...

Using Indian carrier airpower against Pakistani targets doesn't make sense. India can already attack all targets in Pakistan with India's land based airpower.

nauman hindustan said...

Agree with you boss... But Indian army knw very well that's why we e building such aircraft carriers.. Something reason behind this....

nauman hindustan said...

India upcoming super power it will be take some more time... Not enough just lil.... Jai hind...