Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) ‘Vikrant’, will be commissioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kochi on September 2. And if everything goes according to plan, the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam will be its main base in about a year’s time.
As of now, India has two aircraft carriers—the INS Vikramaditya, which is based at Karwar on the western coast, and the other being the newly-built INS Vikrant, which will be based on the eastern coast, with Visakhapatnam being its home port.
Post launch, INS Vikrant will undergo exercises and trials to hone its capabilities and operational abilities on the western coast close to Kochi, as it was built by Cochin Shipyard Limited.
Once fully ready, it will be based in Visakhapatnam, with Chennai being its second port.
As of now, there is no dedicated berth to house a ship the size of Vikrant in Visakhapatnam, which is about 262 m long and 62 m wide, and displaces around 43,000 T when fully loaded. But as per sources, a berth is being built to accommodate the ship and for which a DPR is already said to be ready.
Sources say that there will be two berths—one each in Visakhapatnam and Chennai.
INS Dega, the naval airfield, is already the base for the carrier-based MIG 29k, which is the primary fighter aircraft onboard both the aircraft carriers, until the deal for new fighter aircraft is finalised by the Union Government.
INS Vikrant will carry an assortment of 30 aircraft such as MiG-29K fighter jets, Kamov-31, MH-60R multi-role helicopters, in addition to the indigenously manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and the naval version of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).
The Indian Navy aims to have a three-carrier fleet, so that two will be operational all the time on either side of the coasts of the sub-continent, while one goes for maintenance and refits.
Keeping the threat perception in mind, sources in the Navy say that the need of the hour is to maintain and operate at least two Carrier Battle Groups (CBG), one on the eastern seaboard and the other on the western seaboard.
Arihant completes six years
Meanwhile, INS Arihant (S2) the first indigenously-built nuclear submarine, has completed six years after being commissioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 25, 2016.
Arihant is the first among the three nuclear submarines to be commissioned into service, the others being S3 and S4 which are still to be commissioned. While one is said to be undergoing extensive trials, the other is nearing completion. All three have been built at the Ship Building Centre in Visakhapatnam and will be based at ENC.