India's new $3-billion aircraft carrier is going active this year

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Marking the 75th year of its independence, India will commission its first indigenously built aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant (meaning courageous), later this year, Business Insider reported. The warship has been in the works for over two decades. 

Conventionally, India has relied on imports to meet its military requirements. The flagship of the Indian Navy, INS Vikramaditya, is a modified Kiev-class carrier, which was refurbished after serving the Soviet Navy, later the Russian Navy, before being decommissioned in 1996. So, manufacturing an aircraft carrier indigenously is a significant leap forward for the country. 

From design to deployment

The design work for the ship began in 1999, but the keel wasn't laid for another decade. Two years later, in 2011, the ship was floated out of the dry docks at the Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), the largest shipbuilding and maintenance facility in the country, located in the southern state of Kerala. The ship was launched in 2013. 

The 860 feet (262 m) long ship has 14 decks and more than 2,300 compartments. Displacing 44,000 tons (45,000 tonnes), the aircraft carrier can move at a top speed of 28 knots and has an endurance of 7,500 nautical miles (~ 14,000 km).

The ship is designed to accommodate a crew of over 1,700 sailors with nearly 200 officers on board. This includes special cabins for female officers, who started receiving warship deployments only in 2021

Last year, the indigenous aircraft carrier also began sea trials and is currently back at the CSL for final touches. The warship will undergo a final sea trial before being handed over to the Indian Navy later this year. 

Strike capability

A 110,000 square feet (10,000 sq m) flight deck has two aircraft lifts and can carry up to 40 aircraft, including MiG-29K fighter jets, Soviet-origin Kamov-31 helicopters, and Sikorsky MH-60R multi-role helicopters.

Among its armaments include the Barak 8 surface-to-air missiles built with Israeli collaboration, dual-purpose 76-mm cannons from Italy, and fully automatic rotary naval 30mm cannons from Russia. 

In addition to this, the warship is also designed to carry an indigenously developed electronic warfare suite.

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