The INS Vikrant, India’s first domestically built aircraft carrier, was commissioned on Friday, joining an elite league of the world’s naval powers.
With the $3 billion Vikrant, India will join a small group of countries that have more than one aircraft carrier or helicopter carrier in service, and it will be only the third country, after the United Kingdom and China, to commission a domestically built aircraft carrier in the last three years.
The carrier has given the nation “new confidence,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a ceremony at the Cochin Shipyard in India’s southern Kerala state.
“The goal may be difficult to achieve. The challenges could be significant. But once India makes up its mind, no goal is out of reach “Modi made the remarks before boarding the carrier and raising the country’s new naval flag.
“Until now, only developed countries have produced this type of aircraft carrier. “Today, India has taken another step toward becoming a developed nation by joining this league,” Modi said, adding that the Indo-Pacific region remained “a major security priority.” “in support of India
According to John Bradford, senior fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, India’s commitment to the ship reflects its “long-term vision of maintaining a world-class naval force.”
“There are concerns about the survivability of any carrier in the missile age, but major navies, including those of the United States, Japan, China, and the United Kingdom, are increasing their carrier investments. In this regard, India remains competitive “Bradford explained.
Vikrant joins India’s fleet aboard the INS Vikramaditya, a refurbished Soviet-era carrier purchased from Russia in 2004.
The Vikrant, with a displacement of around 40,000 tons, is slightly smaller than the Vikramaditya and the carriers of the United States, China, and the United Kingdom, though it is larger than Japan’s.
Analysts, on the other hand, praised its potential firepower.
When its air wing is fully operational in the coming years, Vikrant will be capable of carrying up to 30 aircraft, including MiG-29K fighter jets, helicopters, and defensive systems such as surface-to-air missiles.
Its top speed is estimated to be 32 mph (52 kph), with a range of 8,600 miles, and it is powered by four gas turbine engines (13,890 kilometers).
“India is sending a message that it has the power, the aircraft carriers, and thus the air power to dominate the distant reaches of the Indian Ocean,” Ajai Shukla, a former Indian military officer turned defence analyst, said.