Currently, India relies on its 1940s-vintage aircraft carrier the INS Viraat (ex HMS Hermes) . that will remain in service until at least 2018 (pos. 2020) when the INS Vikrant will be commissioned.
An additional aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya (ex Soviet carrier Baku) is currently undergoing sea trials and aviation trials with a mixed Russian/Indian crew and is expected to be handed over in November 2013… ish… provided the date doesn’t slip… again.
A second Vikrant class aircraft carrier, provisionally named INS Vishal, is in the design stage, pending funding… and, more importantly, a decision on whether further ships in the class will be conventionally or nuclear powered.
The former INS Vikrant (ex HMS Hercules) was decommissioned from the Indian Navy in 1997 and is alongside as a ‘sometimes open, sometimes closed’ museum ship in Mumbai and may be sent for scrap if funds are not found for her continued preservation. That would be a shame, as she’s the only Second World War era British aircraft carrier that is preserved as a museum ship.
Indian-built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant launched
India has unveiled its first home-built aircraft carrier from a shipyard in southern Kerala state.
The 37,500 tonne INS Vikrant is expected to go for extensive trials in 2016 before being inducted into the navy by 2018, reports say.
With this, India joins a select group of countries capable of building such a vessel.
Other countries capable of building a similar ship are the US, the UK, Russia and France.
Monday’s launch of INS Vikrant marks the end of the first phase of its construction.
The ship will be then re-docked for outfitting and further construction.
The ship, which will have a length of 260m (850ft) and a breadth of 60m, has been built at the shipyard in Cochin.
It was designed and manufactured locally, using high grade steel made by a state-owned steel company.
Vice-Admiral RK Dhowan of India’s navy has described the launch as the “crowning glory” of the navy’s programme to produce vessels on home soil.