The country’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC), Vikrant, is in advanced stage of construction and will be delivered to the Navy in 2021 for advanced trials, according to Vice Admiral A.K. Saxena, Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition in the Navy.
“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,” he said on Monday. Flight trials would start after the delivery, he added.
Vice Admiral Saxena was speaking at a curtain-raiser for a seminar on ‘nation building through shipbuilding’, being jointly organised by the Navy and FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) later this month.
Another Navy officer said aviation trials, which were expected to commence by February 2021, would take about two years and the carrier was expected to be commissioned into the Navy in early 2023.
However, there is not much progress on the proposed Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-II, which is on the drawing board.
Vice Admiral Saxena said its requirement was by and large accepted. At the moment it was about availability of finances versus the requirements. “It is still under deliberation.”
“Vikrant, the ‘mother’ of all platforms, has 2,300 compartments designed to user specifications for crew, systems, piping, fluids, ventilations, cabling… Nearly 1,500 km of cabling, almost the distance from Kochi to Mumbai, criss-cross its innards,” informs Capt. Padmanabhan, pointing to the trunking in the compartments. The yard carried out detailed designing, developing 3D models and creating mock-ups on the old-school ‘mould loft floor’ for critical parts like anchor pocket and hosepipe arrangement besides using virtual reality to simulate extremely critical parts. Italian firm Fincantieri was roped in to provide consultancy for the propulsion package while Russian support was sought for the aviation complex given that the carrier would have an integral fleet of Russian MiG-29K fighters and Kamov helicopters, a la INS Vikramaditya, which would also ensure interoperability between the carriers.
Vikrant will be capable of operating an aircraft mix of the Russian MiG-29K and LCA (Navy) fighters being developed indigenously by HAL. Its helicopter component will include the Kamov 31 and the indigenously developed ALH helicopters. The ship’s ability to sense and control a large air space around it will be enabled by modern C/D band Early Air Warning Radar, V/UHF Tactical Air Navigational and Direction Finding systems, jamming capabilities over the expected Electro Magnetic (EM) environment and Carrier Control Approach Radars to aid air operations. Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR SAM) systems with Multi-Function Radar (MFR) and Close- In Weapon System (CIWS) will form the protective suite of the ship. All weapon systems onboard the carrier will be integrated through an indigenous Combat Management System (CMS), being manufactured by Tata Power systems. The ship’s integration with Navy’s Network Centric Operations will provide force multiplication.
As of this writing (2012), the Vikrant will be defensed by 4 x 76mm Otobreda dual-purpose cannons and backed by several surface-to-air missile emplacements . For short-ranged work against incoming aircraft or missiles, a digitally-controlled Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) will be installed.
Vikrant, weighing 40,000 tons, is being built by Cochin Shipyard Limited. It works on Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) mechanism similar to the present carrier INS Vikramaditya with an angular ski-jump. The ship is powered by four General Electric (GE) gas turbines.