Amidst apprehension that the construction of the prestigious maiden indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant could fall behind the schedule, thanks to Russia dragging its feet on the delivery of equipment related to the carrier’s aviation complex, Indian Navy Chief Admiral Robin K. Dhowan reviewed the project (P71) at Cochin Shipyard on Saturday.
The carrier, to fly Russian naval combat aircraft MiG29K from its deck, has its aviation complex designed by Nevskoye Design Bureau. While contracts for major aviation equipment have long been signed with the Russian Rosoboronexport, delivery timelines have already been slipped, indicate sources.
Taking a tour of the carrier along with Vice Admiral Sunil Lanba, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Naval Command; Madhu S. Nair, CSL chairman and managing director; and Vice Admiral GS Pabby, Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition; Admiral Dhowan is learnt to have reiterated that the carrier would have to be delivered by end-2018.
The vessel is currently outside the yard’s dock, where it’s undergoing outfitting of machinery, piping and shafting.
Vikrant had its keel laid in February, 2009. It was launched in August 2013 on competition of hull construction.
The Navy has two carriers, INS Viraat and INS Vikramaditya, in operation at the moment. Of this, Viraat is slated to be decommissioned after taking part in the International Fleet Review in February. The naval doctrine envisages keeping three carriers in service at any given time — so that two could be operational as the third undergoes refit.
Admiral Dhowan was received at naval air station INS Garuda by Vice Admiral Lanba on Saturday morning.