Wednesday, April 14, 2021

As India’s 2nd Aircraft Carrier Vikrant Gears For Action, Rafales, Hornets, MiGs Vie For Business

India’s long-awaited second aircraft carrier – INS Vikrant is ready to achieve the next milestone in the development and will begin basin tests starting from next month.

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The Indian Navy’s IAC-1 (Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-1) project which is named ‘Vikrant’ after India’s first historic aircraft carrier INS Vikrant (which was decommissioned in 1997) has successfully completed its harbor trials and is ready to sail into nearby waters next month, Navy sources confirmed.

“Harbour Trials have finished. The Basin Trials are planned for September”, officials told The New Indian Express. Basin trials are done to check the ship’s propulsion, electrical, and shafting systems.

After the basin trials, the aircraft carrier will begin sea trials, in which it would be rigorously tested for its capabilities and equipment for one year to operationalize the ‘big beast’ and train its crew. Additional tests would be done to operationalize the aircraft deployed and the battle group.

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A second aircraft carrier will boost India’s capabilities significantly, especially as China flexes its muscle in the South China Sea. To maintain its regional supremacy, the Indian Navy has even proposed a third aircraft carrier, which, however, could see approximately two decades to become operational.

INS Vikrant

File:INS Vikramaditya1.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
INS Vikramaditya – Wikipedia

The INS Vikrant is currently under construction and trials phase by the Cochin Shipyard, being manufactured in Kochi, Kerala. According to planned timelines, the aircraft carrier would be undergoing sea trials, however now it is expected to be commissioned in 2022-2023, after delays in construction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The presence of OEM (original equipment manufacturer) is required to monitor all parameters and specifications during testing.

According to the specifications, Vikrant would carry a total of 30-40 aircraft, with 26 Russian made MiG-29K jets as its primary fixed-wing fighter aircraft, and additional 10 rotary-wing aircraft which would include Kamov Ka-31, Sea King and HAL Dhruv helicopters. However, the Sea King and the Dhruv shall be replaced by the American MH-60R naval utility helicopters.

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The Vikrant is STOBAR (Short take Off But Arrested Recovery) configured aircraft carrier, much INS Vikramaditya, having an angular ski-jump to assist fighter jets to take off from the short runway.

Currently, the aircraft selected for the carrier is MiG-29K, however, Boeing and Dassault are also conducting trials pitching their F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet and Rafale M for the carrier.

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