Focus: GS II: Science and Technology
Why in News?
The nation’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-1) will be commissioned on September 2, the Indian Navy has announced.
About INS Vikrant:
- Vikrant is the largest warship to have ever been built in India, and the first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier for the Indian Navy.
- It puts India in an elite club of nations that have the capability to design and build these giant, powerful warships.
- The Navy took delivery of the warship, designed by the Warship Design Bureau (WDB), its in-house organisation, from the manufacturer, Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL), a public sector shipyard under Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways
- The 262 m long and 62 m wide ‘Vikrant’ displaces approximately 43,000 tonnes when fully loaded, and has a maximum designed speed of 28 knots (about 52 km/h) with an endurance of 7500 NM.
- The ship has around 2,200 compartments designed for a crew of around 1,600, including specialised cabins to accommodate women officers and sailors.
- The carrier is designed with a very high degree of automation for machinery operations, ship navigation and survivability.
- The carrier is equipped with the latest state of the art equipment and systems.
- It boasts a fully-fledged state of the art medical complex with the latest medical equipment facilities including major modular OT, emergency modular OT, physiotherapy clinic, ICU, laboratories, CT scanner, X-Ray machines, dental complex, isolation ward and telemedicine facilities.
Why is it important for India to have an aircraft carrier?
- An aircraft carrier is one of the most potent marine assets for any nation, which enhances a Navy’s capability to travel far from its home shores to carry out air domination operations.
- Many experts consider having an aircraft carrier as essential to be considered a “blue water” navy — that is, a navy that has the capacity to project a nation’s strength and power across the high seas.
- An aircraft carrier generally leads as the capital ship of a carrier strike/ battle group.
- As the aircraft carrier is a prized and sometimes vulnerable target, it is usually escorted in the group by destroyers, missile cruisers, frigates, submarines, and supply ships.
- Only five or six nations currently have the capability of manufacturing an aircraft carrier, and India has joined this prestigious club now.
- India has had aircraft carriers earlier too — but those were built either by the British or the Russians.
- The ‘INS Vikramaditya’, which was commissioned in 2013 and which is currently the Navy’s only aircraft carrier, started out as the Soviet-Russian warship ‘Admiral Gorshkov’.
- India’s two earlier carriers, the ‘INS Vikrant’ and the ‘INS Viraat’, were originally the British-built ‘HMS Hercules’ and ‘HMS Hermes’. These two warships were commissioned into the Navy in 1961 and 1987 respectively.
What weapons and equipment will the new ‘Vikrant’ have?
- The new warship is comparable to India’s existing carrier ‘INS Vikramaditya’, which is a 44,500-tonne vessel and can carry up to 34 aircraft, including both fighter jets and helicopters.
- Once commissioned, IAC-1 will be “the most potent sea-based asset”.
- Ship will be capable of operating 30 aircraft including MiG-29K fighter jets, Kamov-31 Air Early Warning Helicopters, MH-60R Seahawk multi-role helicopters, as well as the Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) built by Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, and the indigenously manufactured Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) (Navy).
- Using a novel aircraft-operation mode known as Short Take Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR), the IAC is equipped with a ski-jump for launching aircraft, and a set of three ‘arrester wires’ for their recovery onboard.
- The MiG-29K and Kamov-31 aircraft are already in use on the ‘Vikramaditya’.
- The MH-60R Seahawks are manufactured by the American aerospace and defence company Lockheed Martin. The new warship will offer an “incomparable military instrument with its ability to project Air Power over long distances, including Air Interdiction, Anti-Surface Warfare, offensive and defensive Counter-Air, Airborne Anti-Submarine Warfare and Airborne Early Warning”.