INS Vikrant to be born again on Friday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to unveil new naval ensign

September 01, 2022 08:46 pm | Updated 10:31 pm IST - KOCHI

An aerial view of INS Vikrant.

An aerial view of INS Vikrant. | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

A new naval ensign (nishaan), set to be unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will go up on the maiden indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-1) on Friday and INS Vikrant bearing pennant number R11 will be born again. India’s first aircraft carrier, a British-origin ship, was Vikrant (R11) which famously saw action in 1971 and was retired from service in 1997.

What was originally planned as an air defence ship crystallised into an over 40,000-tonne aircraft carrier, and the work was awarded to the public sector Cochin Shipyard, which cut the steel for the carrier in 2005. 

The design and construction of Vikrant catapulted India into an elite club of nations – the others being the US, the UK, France, Russia, Italy and China – with the capability and it also paved the way for indigenous development of material – steel to name one — and systems – the combat management system for instance – within the country.  

As the chairman and managing director of Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) puts it: “it is a moment to rejoice as a nation as it is the result of teamwork by over 550 entities, the Navy, the shipyard, public sector and private enterprises and MSMEs. Everyone had at the back of their minds the realisation that they were creating history,” he said.  

However, there were glitches by way of non-delivery of aviation equipment ordered from Russia on time which led to hold-ups. Last August, the carrier began a series of sea trials, on completion of which the induction is happening on Friday.  

The Navy said that in line with the prevailing practices being followed by other advanced countries having experience of building aircraft carriers, “the deck integration trials of fixed-wing aircraft [fighters] and exploitation of Aviation Facility Complex will be carried out post commissioning of the ship when the operational command and control of the ship, including flight safety, is with the Navy.”

It is expected to also get the Barak-8 long-range surface-to-air missile during this period. With INS Vikramaditya, now undergoing a major refit, guarding the western seaboard, Vikrant is expected to be homeported in the east.  

With two lifts located on either side of the superstructure, Vikrant can move aircraft between the flight deck and the hangar without hampering air operations from its deck.

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