KOCHI: She is a majestic tiger, albeit toothless at the moment. She will become menacing as she steadily grows fangs over the next year, preparing to prowl and growl on the high seas.
The 45,000-ton Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC), the largest warship ever built in India for around Rs 20,000 crore at the Cochin shipyard, is fully seaworthy to be commissioned as INS Vikrant from PM Narendra Modi on September 2.
But the IAC will become fully combat ready after MiG-29K supersonic fighters have completed crucial flight tests from its vast deck and is equipped with all of its high-tech weapons such as the 80’s Israeli-born Barak-8 surface. km. – missile systems in the air, around mid-2023.
With the evidence of the Dhruv, King of the sea and the Chetak helicopters already finished, the IAC is now preparing for the tests of the MiG-29K which will begin between October and November. Tests of the new MH-60 “Romeo” submarine fighter helicopters purchased from the United States and the Kamov-31 early warning helicopters of Russian origin are also underway.
“In the first sortie during the IAC’s long sea trials, we had 22 helicopter landings on the deck. Gradually, we will increase the integration of its fighters and its fleet … It will happen sooner rather than later “, the captain of the IAC Commodore Vidhyadhar Harke he told TOI on Wednesday.
The inherent strength of an aircraft carrier battle group (CBG) is the ability to detect and neutralize emerging threats from afar. A CBG can also move over 400 nautical miles in one day to project raw combat power and “visible deterrence” over a large area.
No wonder China is now building its fourth aircraft carrier after “launching” its third, the more than 80,000-ton Fujian, in June. China, however, is relatively new to the highly complex art of using aircraft carrier fighters. India, on the other hand, has operated “flat-top” since the introduction of the first INS Vikrant carrier from the UK in 1961.
With the IAC named after him, the 1,700-member crew is eager to leave. “The IAC will significantly enhance our naval capability to control the sea and protect crucial maritime communication lines, in line with India’s upward trajectory in economic growth,” Commodore Harke said.
The 262-meter-long, 15-story-high IAC, with a flight deck comparable to two football fields with an angled ski jump, is a true marvel of engineering and shipbuilding. India has now joined a select group of countries such as the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom that can design, build and integrate an aircraft carrier in-house.
“It is an important milestone. With an overall indigenous content of 76%, the IAC is five to seven times the size of any warship ever built in India, ”said Madhu S Nair of the Cochin Shipyard.
The common refrain is that the IAC is far superior to the current Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, which was acquired by Russia for $ 2.33 billion in November 2013, with another $ 2 billion spent on 45 MiG-29Ks, in different aspects ranging from propulsion to flight operations.
For example, the IAC has two “shipboard” aircraft lifts to transport fighters and helicopters to the flight deck as opposed to INS Vikramaditya’s “internal elevators”. “The lifts on board the ship, which have a capacity of 30 tons each, do not interrupt the flight operations”, the cockpit officer Lt-Commander Divyansh Singh She said.
Once a fighter is on the flight deck, it can take off in seconds. “The IAC has the capacity to carry around 30 fighters and helicopters in different configurations depending on the mission,” said the lieutenant commander. Ajay Singha MiG-29K pilot.
“It is easy to land on a normal airport. This is a floating airport with limited space and moves up and down with the ship rolling and pitching. I am looking forward to the day I land and take off from this flight deck, “she added.
That day is not too far away. The IAC, like INS Vikrant, will represent the sovereign Indian territory cruising the high seas, with the ability to quickly transform into a formidable offensive platform by unleashing its fighters and other weapons against enemies in the blink of an eye.

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