INS Vikrant, in the beginning, will have MiG fighters and some choppers.
INS Vikrant, India's first home-built aircraft carrier, was formally commissioned today after completing almost a year of sea trials. The 45,000-tonne warship has been built at a cost of Rs 20,000 crore.
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The aircraft carrier was commissioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Cochin Shipyard. During the event, PM Modi also unveiled the new Naval Ensign. The Navy had earlier said the new insignia will be befitting the rich Indian maritime heritage.
262 metres long and 62 metres wide, INS Vikrant is the largest warship to be built in India. It can have 30 aircraft on board, including MiG-29K fighter jets and helicopters. The warship can accommodate a crew of nearly 1,600.
INS Vikrant, in the beginning, will have MiG fighters and some choppers. The Navy is in the process of procuring 26 deck-based aircraft, having narrowed down to some Boeing and Dassault aircraft.
The warship was in the works for over a decade. Multiple phases of sea trials of INS Vikrant have been completed since August 21 last year. Aviation trials will be held after the navy has its command.
At present, India has only one aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, which is built on a Russian platform. Defence forces have been seeking three carriers in all - one in spare besides one each for the two main naval fronts, in the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal.
INS Vikrant is named after its predecessor, which played a key role during the 1971 war against Pakistan for the liberation of Bangladesh.
With INS Vikrant, India joins a select group of nations, such as the US, UK, Russia, China and France, that can design and build their own aircraft carriers.
Indian Navy sees the new warship as a key addition to its arsenal. India can now deploy an aircraft carrier on both its eastern and western seaboards and expand its maritime presence.
China has been aggressively expanding its strength at sea. Recent satellite images sourced by NDTV indicate that China's naval base in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, is now fully operational and supports warships deployed in the Indian Ocean region. India was also worried recently when a Chinese "spy" ship docked in Sri Lanka.
India's existing fleet includes one aircraft carrier, 10 destroyers, 12 frigates and 20 corvettes.