The much-delayed but much-anticipated first sea trials of India’s first attempt at indigenous aircraft carrier design and construction began on August 4 off the coast of Kochi.
Delayed due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the inaugural sea trials of the 40,000-ton Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) are an important activity that will involve closely monitoring the performance of the warship, including including its hull, propulsion readiness and power generation equipment / systems and ancillary equipment. Trials in the IAC harbor basins ended last November.
Designed by the Directorate of Naval Design of the Navy (DND) and built in the public sector Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), the IAC, which was sanctioned by the government in January 2003, has an indigenous content of over 76 percent. About 550 Indian companies, including about 100 MSMEs, are registered with CSL and provide various services for the construction of EPC.
The start of the sea trials places India in a select group of countries that have the “niche capability” to design, build and integrate a state-of-the-art aircraft carrier. To reincarnate as an Indian Navy Ship (INS) Vikrant – after the Navy’s first aircraft carrier, which was acquired from the UK in 1961 and decommissioned in 1997 – once commissioned, the Rs.23,000 crore IAC will become fully operational after successful bridge testing of MiG-29K supersonic fighter jets, recently acquired MH-60R multirole helicopters and Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH). This should be completed by mid-2023.
The 262-meter-long, 62-meter-wide and 59-meter-high IAC has 14 bridges in all, five of which are superstructure. The warship, which is designed for a crew of approximately 1,700, has over 2,300 compartments, including specialized cabins to accommodate female officers. The vessel has been designed with a very high degree of automation for navigation and survivability. The vessel has a top speed of approximately 28 knots, a cruising speed of 18 knots and an endurance of approximately 7,500 nautical miles.