INS Vikrant sea trials take it a step closer to commissioning - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Stuff.
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Sunday, 9 January 2022

INS Vikrant sea trials take it a step closer to commissioning


By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 10th Jan 22

 

After hosting two successive high profile visits – by President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu – within a span of less than two weeks, India’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier (IAC-1), INS Vikrant, is heading out to sea for its third set of sea trials. The carrier was built at Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL).

 

In her first sea trials last August, INS Vikrant established the smooth functioning of its propulsion system, navigational suite and basic aircraft carrier operations.

 

In her second sea trials in October-November, various machinery trials and flight trials were conducted along with various seamanship evolutions. INS Vikrant then spent 10 days out at sea, thereby proving its sustenance capability.

 

With the navy having gained confidence in the ship’s abilities during the first two sea trials, INS Vikrant is now sailing out to undertake complex manoeuvres to establish specific readings of how the ship performs in various conditions. In addition, various sensor suites of the ship would also be tested.

 

Scientists from the Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL), a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratory based at Visakhapatnam would also be embarked during the trials.  

 

The NSTL scientists would be checking the installation and functioning of underwater weapons and associated systems, such as underwater mines, torpedoes, fire control systems, weapon launchers, targets and decoys. 

 

“​The IAC has been a success story on numerous counts, be it the case of Atmanirbharta, wherein 76 per cent of the equipment is indigenously sourced; or the close engagement between the design teams of the Indian Navy and M/s Cochin Shipyard Limited,” stated the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in an official press release on Sunday.

 

However the MoD avoided mention of the time and cost overruns that have plagued the construction of INS Vikrant. It is being delivered about six years late and at a cost of about Rs 20,000 crore (USD 2.7 billion) instead of the sanctioned Rs 3,261 crore. 

 

The Indian Navy’s long experience of operating aircraft carriers is evident from the fact that INS Vikrant has been able to carry out basic flying operations from its very first outing to sea. 

 

That experience comes from operating aircraft carriers ever since 1961, when the first INS Vikrant was bought from the UK’s Royal Navy. In 1987, with the Vikrant nearing retirement, the navy inducted a second carrier, INS Viraat, built by Vickers-Armstrong, UK. At present, the Indian Navy operates a single aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, which was bought from Russia. 

 

After INS Vikrant joins the fleet next year, the navy is planning a second indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-2), to follow INS Vikrant. It is believed that the IAC-2 will be a larger, 65,000-tonne carrier named INS Vishal.

 

The 40,000-tonne INS Vikrant operates a mix of aircraft, with its strike power predominantly coming from Russian MiG-29K/KUB fighters, Kamov-31 helicopters and a new fleet of Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk multi-role helicopters, when those are delivered by Lockheed Martin.

 

With a question mark over the combat ability and resilience of the MiG-29K/KUB, the navy is processing the acquisition of 57 more deck-based fighters from the global market to boost the strike power of INS Vikrantand INS Vishal. In addition, the DRDO is pursuing the development of a “twin engine deck-based fighter” (TEDBF) that will supplement the other fighters.

 

On successful completion of the ongoing series of progressive sea trials, IAC-1 is scheduled to be commissioned as INS Vikrant later this year, as the nation commemorates ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’.


 

 

Know the INS Vikrant

 

 

Parameter

Value

 

 

 

1

Type of aircraft carrier

STOBAR (short take-off and barrier assisted recovery)

2

Displacement

40,000 tonnes

3

Length x Width

262 x 62 metres

4

Propulsion

4 x General Electric LM2500 gas turbine

2 x Elecon COGAG gearbox

5

Speed

30 knots (56 kmph)

6

Range

8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km)

7

Crew

196 officers, 1,449 sailors (including air crew)

8

Sensors

a)    Elta MF-STAR AESA multifunction radar

b)    Selex RAN-40L air surveillance radar

9

Armament

a)    64 LR SAM surface-to-air-missiles

b)    4 x Otomelara 76 mm cannons

10

Air power

a)    26 x MiG-29K/KUB

b)    10 x Kamov-31, Sikorsky MH-60R choppers

11

Cost

Approx Rs 20,000 crore (US$ 2.7 billion)

 

 

 




5 comments:

  1. Its 3.13 billion dollars. Italy and Russia provided consultancy. Most of the stuff is imported.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A nice summary by Ajai Shukla, one of the few landlubbers who gets "carriers" unlike the "islands are unsinkable carriers" crowd - who are both illiterate and incompetent
    1. The Table needs a few corrections
    a) STOBAR is Short Take Off and Barrier Arrested Recovery (landing). B for "But" is commonly seen on the internet but is incorrect and illogical. One should simplify for the average reader but also educate them to raise the level
    b) Rs 20,000 crores, the "crores" has been left out. The final cost number will hopefully be provided by the CAG once it is actually handed over for commissioning
    2. Not just Italy and Russia but France and even the US have had inputs on the IAC-1. A lot of the "fight and move" is imported but the Navy cant do all the heavy lifting by itself, the Army and IAF have to grow up and grow the domestic military industrial base, especially "move/propulsion" some time. That the "float" is indigenous is a major achievement, that PSU shipyards are still not as productive/efficient as a private major like L&T is a concern though
    3. If India as a nation is serious about being in the carrier business, the one military sub-domain where it still has an slight edge over China - and there is very little indication that India is serious given the incompetence in stalling the IAC-2 project a large dependency on the US is inevitable both on the carrier and the airwing. If correctly managed it can give the IN a major edge - the US is the best in this business, as it learnt very quickly the harsh lessons the Japanese taught it about using carriers as a decisive weapon of war in WW2.

    There are no points for being in 2nd place in a shooting war.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous 10th January 07:00

    Thanks for the corrections -- have incorporated them in the article.

    ReplyDelete
  4. How far into the Indian Ocean is the Vikrant and Vikramaditya supposed to sail? Are their combat missions only limited to the Indian Ocean? In case of a military conflict, the Indian Navy will be in an advantageous position to patrol the entry to the Suez Canal from the Arabian Sea. What is supposed to be the role for the Aircraft Carriers in the Indian Ocean? To hinder access to the shipping of the adversary to the Atlantic, via the Indian Ocean? What if the adversary has more Aircraft Carriers than the Indian Navy in close proximity in the region? Where is a naval conflict likely to arise in the Indian Ocean region for the Indian Navy, and how does the Indian Navy intend to manage it?

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Aditya

    Some good questions One would hope Ajai Shukla poses these questions to NHQ in an interview exclusively on carrier employment. Meanwhile make do with these responses
    1. How far into the Indian Ocean is the Vikrant and Vikramaditya supposed to sail? Are their combat missions only limited to the Indian Ocean?
    Why just the IOR, the Navy and carriers are supposed to operate in the Pacific as well. No less than the PM has decreed on multiple fora: SAGAR, Look East Act East, Quad - ASEAN centrality and free and open Indo Pacific". Is "Ghar mein ghus ke maarenge" only against Pakistan? And even if one was to try and restrict the "action" to the IOR, what if the PLAN targets Indian maritime interests in the Pacific? Will we surrender in the Pacific or beg the USN to fight for us?

    2. What is supposed to be the role for the Aircraft Carriers in the Indian Ocean? To hinder access to the shipping of the adversary to the Atlantic, via the Indian Ocean?

    Sea Control, both in peace and war. Which needs Air Control over the sea. Which gives you MDA - Maritime Domain Awareness. Which then allows you to hinder shipping, interdict opponent navy, strike land targets from the sea, insert amphibious forces etc. etc.

    What if the adversary has more Aircraft Carriers than the Indian Navy in close proximity in the region?
    Then you better hope the IN has the larger carriers with more capable airwings, with better training, and leadership, and some luck. And hope to emulate Midway where a force of 3 US Fleet carriers decisively defeated a much larger IJN fleet sinking all 4 Japanese fleet carriers for the loss of one

    4. Where is a naval conflict likely to arise in the Indian Ocean region for the Indian Navy, and how does the Indian Navy intend to manage it?

    Predicting the next conflict is a mug's game. Far better to ensure the capabilities are there for all kinds of contingencies across the spectrum. And deterrence is far better and cheaper than fighting wars,
    Carriers are really useful when it comes to deterrence. A point bean counting carrier critics masquerading as naval experts keep forgetting.

    ReplyDelete

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