The Indian Navy is due to receive its first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) Vikrant in 2021, enabling the country to join a select group of nations with domestically built naval carriers.

Built by Cochin Shipyard, the 40,000t carrier is at an advanced stage of construction, said Indian Navy warship production and acquisition controller vice-admiral AK Saxena.

Saxena made the statement at a promotional event for an upcoming seminar entitled ‘nation building through shipbuilding’. The seminar is being organised by the nation’s navy and industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) later this month.

He was quoted by media sources as saying: “Starting of gas turbines will take place in the third quarter of this year. Basic trials will be conducted in February-March next and contractor sea trials after that. It will be delivered to the navy in 2021.”

Following delivery, the aircraft carrier will undergo flight trials.

Media sources also quoted another Indian Navy officer as saying that IAS Vikrant would be put through aviation trials over a two-year period before being commissioned into the service in early 2023.

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Only four countries in the world have the capability to design and construct aircraft carriers weighing 40,000t and more.

IAC Vikrant is capable of accommodating 20 MiG 29K fighter jets and ten helicopters, according to The Week.

Russian MiG 29K aircraft also fly from the Indian Navy’s existing carrier INS Vikramaditya.

Following the retirement of INS Viraat in 2017, the number of aircraft carriers in the Indian fleet has reduced from two to one. INS Viraat originally operated under the name HMS Hermes and was used by the British Royal Navy, before being sold to India in 1986.

Meanwhile, India’s proposed Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-II has not yet started due to discussions still taking place regarding its development.

Saxena added: “Its requirement is by and large accepted. At the moment it is about the availability of finance versus the requirements. It is still under deliberation.”

Separately, Russian company Rosoboronexport stated that INS Vikramaditya will undergo scheduled maintenance and upgrades next year.