Armed Forces

Aircraft Carriers of India : A Comprehensive Guide

Aircraft Carriers of India

Aircraft carriers are formidable vessels meant to defend the seas and bolster global security by power projection. A few of their uses in today’s militaries are providing air supremacy, supporting ground and naval forces, patrol, surveillance of the seas, disaster communications assistance, search and rescue missions, transport fighter jets and refueling services. Additionally, aircraft carriers provide a platform for medical assistance and relief operations. This guide provides an in-depth look at Aircraft carriers of India and gives a comprehensive overview of their capabilities and duties.

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India has a small but impressive aircraft carrier fleet capable of carrying out wide-ranging missions essential to the nation’s maritime defense. In this guide, we’ll explore the details of Aircraft carriers of India and their operational capabilities.

Aircraft Carriers of Indian Navy

The fleet of Aircraft Carriers of Indian Navy currently consists of 2 STOBAR carriers the INS Vikramaditya and the INS Vikrant.

INS Vikramaditya is a 45,400 tonnes modified carrier that served with the navy of  Soviet Union and later with the Russian Navy as Admiral Gorshkov. It equipped with a variety of weapons and sensors, allowing them to deploy against possible threats. INS Vikramaditya was formally inducted in the Indian Navy in the month of June, 2014.

aircraft carriers of India - INS Vikramaditya
INS Vikramaditya []

INS Vikrant is first of the domestically built aircraft carriers of India. The 45,000-tonnes aircraft carrier was built by the Cochin Ship Yard Limited. The carrier was commissioned in September 2022. The aircraft carrier is named INS Vikrant as a tribute to India’s first Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant (1961). It played a major role in India-Pakistan’s 1971 war. INS Vikrant was decommissioned in 1997. It served as a museum ship until 2012 before being scrapped in 2014.

INS Vikrant Aircraft carriers of India
INS Vikrant []

Aircraft Carriers of India : History & Development

India has been operating aircraft carriers since the 1950s, when it purchased INS Vikrant from the United Kingdom the construction of which was started as HMS Hercules for the British Royal Navy during the second world war. However, the construction was halted after the end of the war. India then purchased the incomplete carrier in 1957 and built it by 1961.

Aircraft carriers of India : INS Vikrant
INS Vikrant (1961) []

Since then, India has continued to develop its capabilities, working with Russia and France to acquire new ships as well as refit its existing vessels. In 2013, India also launched its first domestically-made aircraft carrier, the INS Vikrant. This vessel was designed and built in Indian shipyards and is equipped with an array of advanced weapon systems.

INS Vikramaditya: India’s First Supercarrier.

The INS Vikramaditya is India’s first supercarrier and was commissioned in 2013. This 45,400-tonne ship is the largest warship ever built in India, and was refurbished in June 2014 after it underwent extensive modernization. The ship’s hangar can hold 33 aircraft and its flight deck can accommodate 57 fighter aircraft at any time. Additionally, the vessel is equipped with advanced weapons systems including SS-N-22 anti-ship Hornets, long range surface to air missiles, rapid fire guns and supersonic designators.

Types of Aircraft Operated on Aircraft Carriers of India.

India operates a variety of aircraft on their carrier fleet. The Mig-29K is the main fighter aircraft that India deploys from their carriers. This supersonic twin-engine, fourth-generation all-weather multirole fighter features advanced tracking and navigation radar for increased operational accuracy. Additionally, the Su-30MKI variant of the Su-30 series has been purchased to supplement the Mig-29K for naval operations. Additionally, Indian carriers also operate Ka-31 airborne early warning helicopters and Sea Harrier fighters in addition to conventional helicopters for transport and search and rescue missions.

Challenges Faced by Aircraft Carriers of India.

India’s aircraft carrier fleet face a variety of challenges. Chief among these is the lack of an indigenous aircraft carrier or associated aircraft capable of providing adequate air cover for surface vessels. Additionally, Indian naval forces must contend with the littoral environment which can be difficult to navigate and in times of conflict treacherous to traverse. Limited resources also restrict their ability to maintain a comprehensive presence throughout the region while aging infrastructure often hinders progress in modernizing their capabilities.

Aircraft Carriers of India : The Future

According to a news report, Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar had said that Indian Navy was considering a repeat order for INS Vikrant to capitalise on the expertise available within the country. India might also consider building the indigenous aircraft carrier-2, a heavier vessel with 65,000 tonnes displacement.

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