Indian Navy launches first Vikrant-class aircraft carrier
The Indian Navy has successfully launched the first indigenous Vikrant-class aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, at the Cochin shipyard (CSL) in Kochi, Kerala, India, marking the completion of first phase of the construction programme.
Scheduled to be delivered to the Indian Navy in around 2016-17, the 37,500t warship carrier will be re-docked for further construction work including the flight deck, followed by extensive sea trials in 2016.
Defence minister AK Antony said that said the nation will continue to boost local capability towards securing maritime interest.
"Our navy must continue to maintain high operational readiness at all times to ward off any likely misadventure against our national interests," Antony said.
Designed by the directorate of naval design and built by Cochin Shipyard (CSL), the aircraft carrier can operate a combination of Russian MiG-29K, Ka31 and the HAL-built indigenous light combat aircraft.
Following the delivery to the Indian Navy, the 260m-long and 60m-wide aircraft carrier will undergo weapon system trials in 2018, according to Zee Media.
The ship is armed with a vertical launch system for long-range surface-to-air missiles, a close-in weapon system to provide self-defence, four OTO Melera 76mm super rapid guns capable of firing 120 rounds a minute at a range of 30,000m.
Featuring jamming capabilities, the Vikrant-class ship is equipped with a modern early air warning radar, VHF or UHF tactical air navigation and direction finding systems as well as combat management system to provide real-time situational awareness.
Capable of accommodating 1,600 personnel, the vessel has a range of about 8,000nm and can cruise at a maximum speed of over 28kt using two four General Electric LM2500+ gas turbines driving two shafts.
Image: Indian Navy's Vikrant-class aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant at sea. Photo: courtesy of Indian Navy.