India — Realisation of a Two Aircraft Carrier Dream

It was a dream that India saw just two years after the deba­cle along the Indo-Chi­na bor­der in 1962 – to have a two air­craft car­ri­er navy. And it will be in 2012 that India will be able to real­ize this long cher­ished dream as Admi­ral Gor­shkov rechris­tened as INS Vikra­ma­ditya joins its fleet by year end.

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The air­craft car­ri­er is float­ing Indi­an city with tri­colour atop declar­ing to every­one that it is a sov­er­eign India where only Indi­an law of land applies. As India ris­es in its stature, these air­craft car­ri­ers will help in pro­ject­ing pow­er beyond its bor­der.

The impor­tance of strong mil­i­tary was brought home to the polit­i­cal class after India’s loss at the hands of Chi­nese mil­i­tary in 1962. An Emer­gency Cab­i­net Com­mit­tee in 1964 gave approval for oper­at­ing two float­ing deck car­ri­ers that will help Indi­an Navy to oper­ate its strike air­craft well beyond its coast­line.

Sources say that 44,000 ton Admi­ral Gor­shkov with a full-fledged run­way and a bat­tery of MiG-29 K air­craft and heli­copters will be induct­ed on Decem­ber 4, mak­ing Indi­an Navy a two air­craft car­ri­er navy – one each for West­ern and East­ern seaboard. Many of the sailors expe­ri­enced in oper­at­ing air­craft car­ri­er will get trans­ferred to Vikra­ma­ditya.

The achieve­ment will add anoth­er punch to the Indi­an Navy’s mar­itime capa­bil­i­ties as it is only the fifth coun­try after the US, UK, Rus­sia and France to oper­ate an air­craft car­ri­er. The skill has been honed over a peri­od of over 25 years.

With INS Viraat under­go­ing a mas­sive refur­bish­ment in 2009 at Cochin Ship­yard Ltd (CSL), it is going to be in ser­vice till 2018. And the indige­nous air­craft car­ri­er (IAC) named INS Vikrant – named after Indi­an Navy’s for­mer float­ing run­way – will be join­ing its fleet when INS Vikrant will be on way out around 2018.

INS Vikrant was float­ed out recent­ly from CSL and was again brought into dry dock after some test­ing,” said an offi­cial.

The capa­bil­i­ty to oper­ate an air­craft car­ri­er at long dis­tances for long dura­tions has been a reflec­tion of a country’s might and when navies like Ger­many and Aus­tralia lost their air­craft car­ri­er oper­at­ing capa­bil­i­ty they were reduced to mere­ly coastal police role.

Also this is one capa­bil­i­ty of Indi­an Navy that even makes China’s PLA Navy turn green with envy as it has also been striv­ing to attain long mar­itime legs by acquir­ing a float­ing deck car­ri­er. And even if is able to acquire an air­craft car­ri­er today it will take them near­ly a decade to excel in oper­a­tional­is­ing their strat­e­gy around air­craft car­ri­er. “Any navy worth its salt will like to oper­ate an air­craft car­ri­er and one aspir­ing to oper­ate one will be envi­ous of the force already hav­ing it. But it is a skill acquired over a peri­od of time we have tak­en over 25 years,” said INS Viraat skip­per Cap­tain AB Singh.

Source:
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