The much-awaited sea trials of India’s maiden indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-1), built by the public sector Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL), began here on Wednesday.
The 40,000-tonne carrier, whose keel-laying was held in 2009, is slated to join the Navy as INS Vikrant late next year.
Its induction will give a fillip to the sea control capabilities of the Navy in the Indian Ocean Region. While the Indian Navy currently operates one aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, it is keen to add a third one to its fleet in line with its perspective plan to simultaneously operate three carrier battle groups (CBG) so that two of them remain serviceable on either flank at any given time.
Capacity to carry 30 aircraft
The IAC-1, the biggest warship made indigenously, has an overall length of 263 m and a breadth of 63 m. It is capable of carrying 30 assorted aircraft including combat jets and helicopters. Propelled by four gas turbines, it can attain a top speed of 30 knots (about 55 kmph). The vessel will have a complement of 1,500 personnel.
Like Vikramaditya, IAC-1 has a STOBAR (short take off but arrested recovery) system of aircraft launch and recovery on the flight deck.
Contract signed in 2007
After toying with the idea of having an air defence ship (ADS) for some time, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved the carrier construction project in 2002 and the contract for the first phase of construction was signed with the Cochin Shipyard in 2007.
The carrier is armed with the Barak LR-SAM (long range surface-to-air missile) air defence and AK-630 close-in weapon system besides a slew of advanced sensors and an electronic warfare suite.
Italian, Russian help
While the design was done with help from the Italian firm Fincantieri, the Russians collaborated in designing and developing the aviation complex. However, the project gave a boost to indigenisation right from the beginning, with a special grade steel for the construction of its hull developed within the country.
The IAC-1 construction catapulted India into an elite league of countries capable of building complex aircraft carriers.