The country's first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) Vikrant has entered its final phase of construction and is expected to begin sea trials in 2020, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said on Monday.
Making a strong pitch for a second IAC, he said, “Case for a second IAC has received necessary impetus, though it is still a decade away. Construction would be spread over 7-10 years. We will see the start of construction in three years.” Adm. Lanba said addressing the annual press conference on Monday, on the eve of the Navy Day.
China has significantly scaled up construction of aircraft carriers with their first indigenous carrier undergoing trials and a second one under construction.
The Navy envisages IAC-II to have a displacement of 65,000 tonnes and use a Catapult Assisted Take Off But Arrested Recovery (CARTOBAR) for launching aircraft.
India’s first domestic carrier, Vikrant , weighing 40,000 tonnes, is in third and advanced stage of construction in Kochi. It works on a Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) mechanism similar to that in the present carrier INS Vikramaditya , with an angular ski-jump.
Adm. Lanba expressed optimism that an indigenous deck based fighter aircraft would be ready.
In this regard he said the tempo of overseas deployment and exercises was at an all time high this year. “Indian Navy conduced 20 exercises with friendly foreign navies,” Adm. Lanba stated.
On the possibility of a two front war, Adm. Lanba said the Navy does not have two fronts and said, “Indian Ocean is the only front.”
On China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean he said the balance of power is with the Indian Navy, however in the South China Sea China has a similar advantage.
Jointmenship making progress
On the long pending issue of appointing a Permanent Chief of Staff Committee (PCoSC) who will act as a single point military advisor to the government, Adm Lanba said the three services have “finally agreed on a permanent chief of staff committee” and the rules and responsibilities have been sent to the Defence Ministry. He stressed that three service chiefs have been working in close coordination including overruling own headquarters to take things forward.
“We must have a higher defence organisation in Delhi before we can have theatre commands. We need one operational commander,” he noted.
No preferential treatment to RNEL
Responding to questions on the long delay by Reliance Naval Engineering Limited (RNEL) in delivering patrol boats, Adm Lanba said the contract has not been cancelled yet but the Navy is looking into it and see what can be done.
“RNEL is undergoing corporate debt restructuring and they are being taken to court by their banker IDBI,” Adm Lanba said.