In a significant development, the Indian Navy has presented a proposal to the Ministry of Defence for the construction of a second indigenous aircraft carrier, referred to as IAC-2, resembling the INS Vikrant. This formidable aircraft carrier, weighing 45,000 tons, is expected to be built by Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) in Kerala, India.
The ambitious project is estimated to cost over 40,000 crores, and its approval will be subject to review by the Defence Acquisition Board, Defence Acquisition Council, and, ultimately, the Security Cabinet Committee chaired by the Prime Minister.
Key Highlights of the IAC-2 Project:
- Budget Constraints Influence Ship Design: The Indian Navy initially aimed for a more powerful and nuclear-operated 65,000-ton vessel capable of carrying over 30 aircraft. However, budget constraints led to the selection of a smaller and electric propulsion IAC-2 design.
- Anticipated Timeline: Upon approval and contract signing, Cochin Shipyard Limited is expected to take 8-10 years to complete the construction of IAC-2. The Navy hopes that by the time it is ready, DRDO’s indigenous Twin-Engine Deck-Based Fighter (TEDBF) will also be operational.
- Competing with China: China currently possesses three aircraft carriers, namely Liaoning, Shandong, and Fujian, with plans for two more. To strengthen India’s grip in the Indian Ocean, the Navy aims to deploy three aircraft carriers.
Presently, India boasts two aircraft carriers, namely the Russian-made INS Vikramaditya and the indigenous INS Vikrant, both counted among the world’s top 10 aircraft carriers.
INS Vikrant, India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, was constructed by CSL and officially handed over to the Indian Navy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September last year. This 44,000-ton warship was built at an approximate cost of 20,000 crores and is set to be fully operational for combat by 2024.