India Aircraft Carrier Is First Made In Asia: INS Vikrant To Answer China Military's Pacific Strength [VIDEO]
A new India aircraft carrier was unveiled Monday at the western Indian port city of Kochi. The new INS Vikrant carrier is the very first to be home built in India. The Asian nation joins the United States, Russia, and European nations France and United Kingdom as the only countries capable of designing and building full-size military vessels.
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While the new India aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was unveiled this week, the ship will spend another two years being outfitted with military equipment and another two years of basin and sea trials. The INS Vikrant India aircraft carrier is expected to be commissioned in 2018.
The new India aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is a 37,500-ton ship and is named after the first aircraft carrier of the India Navy back in 1961. The original carrier served many important battles when India was at war against Pakistan in 1971.
"The launching of the indigenous aircraft carrier marks just the first step in a long journey, but at the same time an important one," said Defense Minister A. K. Antony. India intends that the new India aircraft carrier will mark the country's shift from operating a "buyer's Navy to a builder's navy." The INS Vikrant will be just the first of 26 ships to be assembled at India's Cochin shipyard. The 26 ships also include patrol vessels for the Indian Coast guard and support ships for international clients.
The 37,500-ton INS Vikrant is designed to hold a fleet of Russian MiG-29K and Light Combat Aircraft fighter jets. The Vikrant will also support the Kamov 31, the Indian ALH helicopters, long-range surface to air missiles, early warning radar, tactical air navigational and direction positioning systems. The new India aircraft carrier measures 262 meters long, 62 meters wide, and will accommodate a crew of 1600 people.
According to defense experts, the enormous India aircraft carrier will place India's eastern pacific naval strength ahead of China. Even though the INS Vikrant will not be commissioned until 2018, India will have two carriers in operation before the end of 2013.
"By the end of this year India will become the only country in Asia to have two aircraft carriers," said Zhang Junshe, the vice president of China's Naval Research Institute. "This will enhance the overall capabilities, especially the power projection capabilities of the Indian Navy."
"India's first self-made carrier, along with reinforced naval strength, will further disrupt the military balance in South Asia," he said.
"It is going to be deployed in the Indian Ocean region where the world's commercial and economic interests coalesce. India's capability is very much with China in mind," admits IHS Jane's Defence Weekly's defense expert Rahul Bedi.
India still lags far behind China in terms of military strength.
While the Made-In-India aircraft carrier will certainly improve the influence of the India military, China's advances in nuclear expertise and ship building are still far more advanced.
According to retired naval officer and former New Delhi director of the National Maritime Foundation, C. Uday Bhaskar, the new India aircraft carrier will "enhance India's credibility," but it "would not alter the balance of power with China."
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