NEW DELHI — While India claims that its first home-built carrier, the Vikrant, will be fully operational by 2018, Indian Navy sources say that date is closer to 2020 since the ship is only about 30 percent complete.
On Aug. 12, India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-1) will be launched nearly four years behind schedule. The ship is being built by state-owned Cochin Shipyard Limited at Kochi in southern India.
The aircraft carrier will be floated out of dry dock, then redocked in order to mount the propulsion system. Work will then begin on the deck and the weapon systems before sea trials. And while Defence Ministry officials say those trials will begin by 2016, Indian Navy sources say it will not be before 2018-19.
“Launch merely means they will float the IAC-1 from the dry dock [to outfit the interior],, which includes laying of pipes, and after that it will be dry docked again for integration of propulsion systems,” an Indian Navy source said
Not only will Vikrant’s induction be delayed, but sources add that the total cost of the carrier will be more than US $5 billion, including the aircraft and weapons systems. When the project was approved in 2003, the ship was estimated to cost around $500 million. Sources said the construction of the carrier, minus the weapon systems and aircraft, will cost more than $2.2 billion.
Indian Navy spokesman Cmdr. P.V. Satish insisted that IAC-1 will be inducted in 2018...
Indian Navy sources countered that at the time of the launch, only the hull and the outer structure will be completed, about 30 percent of the total work needed for the carrier.
After laying piping, the carrier will be redocked to mount the gear box, hydraulic systems, generator systems and propulsion system.
Work will then focus on the hangar deck for aircraft, berthing spaces for 1,400 sailors, boiler room and the flight deck.
Before sea trials, workers will install the Israeli-made Barak air defense system, multi-function radar system, A630 close-in weapon system and combat management system, the sources added.
An Indian Navy official said this ship will be able to stop attacks from enemy aircraft and will have anti-submarine defense systems. All systems on board will be integrated through a combat management system.
The Vikrant will be 262 meters long and be able to accommodate around 30 aircraft, including helicopters.
“IAC-1 features a STOBAR [short take-off but arrested recovery] configuration with a ski-jump. The deck is designed to enable aircraft such as the MiG-29 to operate from the carrier. It will deploy up to 20 fixed-wing aircraft, primarily the Mikoyan MiG-29K and the naval variant of indigenous Tejas Mark 2, besides carrying 10 Kamov Ka-31 helicopters,” the Indian Navy official said.
The Navy plans to have three aircraft carriers; a final decision is awaited on the IAC-2, which would be another homemade carrier but would displace more than 60,000 tons, 20,000 tons more than Vikrant. IAC-2 is still in the design stage but will have a catapult deck.
Via Patrick H.