Indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant - the largest and most complex warship India has ever designed and built - set off on its maiden sea trials today, 50 years after its namesake's key role in the 1971 war.
A tweet from the Navy Spokesperson's handle hailed this "proud and historical moment for India", particularly since it represents another step in the government's quest for an 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' and the 'Make in India' initiative, and promised "many more will follow..."
"India joins a select group of nations having niche capability to indigenously design, build and integrate a state-of-the-art aircraft carrier. Reaching this milestone despite COVID-19 challenges (was) made possible by dedicated efforts of all stakeholders," the Navy said.
Proud & historic day for India as the reincarnated #Vikrant sails for her maiden sea trials today, in the 50th year of her illustrious predecessor's key role in victory in the #1971war— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) August 4, 2021
Largest & most complex warship ever to be designed & built in India.
Many more will follow... pic.twitter.com/6cYGtAUhBK
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called the Vikrant's maiden sea trials a "true testimony to our unwavering commitment to 'Atmanirbhar Bharat'".
"Maiden sea sortie of Indigenous Aircraft Carrier Vikrant is a true testimony to our unwavering commitment to 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' in Defence. Realisation of this historic milestone, regardless of Covid, shows true dedication & commitment of all stakeholders. A proud moment for India," he said.
Maiden sea sortie of Indigenous Aircraft Carrier, ‘Vikrant' is a true testimony to our unwavering commitment to #Atmanirbharta in Defence. Realisation of this historic milestone, regardless of COVID, shows true dedication & commitment of all stakeholders. A proud moment for India pic.twitter.com/pJJZqmV4G1— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) August 4, 2021
A statement from the Navy said Vikrant is 262m long, a maximum of 62m wide and 59m high, including the superstructure. It has 14 decks - five in the superstructure. Designed for a crew of around 1,700, it has over 2,300 compartments, including cabins to accommodate women officers.
"The ship has been designed with a very high degree of automation for machinery operation, ship navigation and survivability... has a top speed of around 28 knots (approx. 52 km per hour) and cruising speed of 18 knots (approx. 33.37 km per hour) with an endurance of about 7,500 nautical miles (approx. 13,900 km)," the Navy said in its statement.
Vikrant will operate with approximately 24 Russian-built MiG-29K fighter jets - the same fighters already deployed on the INS Vikramaditya, presently the Navy's only operational aircraft carrier.
"With the delivery of IAC (Vikrant), India will join a select group of nations with the capability to indigenously design and build an aircraft carrier, which will be a real testimony to the make-in-India thrust of the Indian Government," the Navy said, adding that its ship-building programme also includes 44 ships and submarines - all being built indigenously, it said.
Vikrant, expected to be commissioned into service next year, will add superior combat capability, range and versatility to the country's naval might, Rajnath Singh had said in June.
"The combat capability, reach and versatility will add formidable capabilities in the defence of our country and help secure India's interests in the maritime domain," Mr Singh said after visiting Vikrant, which was docked in Kerala's Cochin Port at the time."
Commissioning of the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) next year will be a befitting tribute to 75 years of India's independence," Mr Singh said, adding it boasts of nearly 75 per cent nationally-sourced content - from design specs to steel used in construction, and from key weapons to sensors.
Vikrant is also known as the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 1, or IAC-1