The countdown to the commissioning of “INS Vikrant,” India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, has begun

In the first week of September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will commission the IAC-1 “Vikrant.” A thorough comparison with Chinese Fujian is necessary because both China and India are working to strengthen their armed forces.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissions IAC-1 “Vikrant” in the first week of September, India will become one of a select few nations with the capacity to design and construct indigenous aircraft carriers.

Top military officials and other dignitaries are expected to attend the event, which is reportedly scheduled to take place on September 2 at the Cochin Shipyard (CSL), the yard where the ship was built.

Vikrant Vs Fujian

Both Indian and Chinese navies have received new aircraft carriers and is indication of the strengthening of military potential in confrontation with disputed world powers.

IAC-1 Vikrant is expected to play a major role in strengthening the capabilities of the Indian Navy to counter the growing Chinese threat in the waters around India.

This aircraft carrier which is larger and more advanced than her predecessor is built at a cost of Rs 20,000 crore has been designed by Indian Navy’s in-house Directorate of Naval Design (DND) and built by the CSL, under the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways. Its predecessor had played a very critical role in the 1971 Indo-Pak War.

India had ex-British carriers in service from 1961 to 1997 and from 1987 to 2016, and INS Vikramaditya, a modified Kiev-class carrier purchased from Russia and commissioned in 2013, is currently the flagship of the Indian Navy.

With a length of 262 meters and a displacement of 45,000 tons, the Vikrant is the largest warship that India has built but is half the tonnage of the Fujian carrier. And 76 per cent of its components are developed in the country. It can carry 30 jets and helicopters, and, like INS, Vikramaditya uses a STOBAR launch assembly with a ski jump ramp.

The Vikrant is powered by four General Electric LM2500+ gas turbines on two shafts producing over 80 megawatts (1,10,000 hp) of power. Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division developed the ship’s Combat Management System (CMS) in collaboration with the Weapon and Electronics System Engineering Establishment and MARS, Russia.

The IAC’s initial air wing is expected to be made up of the MiG-29K, a carrier version of the Russian-made MiG-29K, American Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky MH-60R multirole naval helicopters, Indian ALH Dhruv and Kamov Ka-31 AEW helicopter, from Russia.

The MiG-29K aircraft served on the INS Vikramaditya, but due to poor experience, India is looking for 26 new fighter aircraft on the carrier and is to make a choice soon – it will either be the French Rafale M or the US FA-18 Super Hornet.

The new carrier with around 2,300 compartments, special facilities for women officers and built to host 1700 crew, will boost Indian Navy’s quest for Blue Navy and its dominance in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Fujian Carrier

The Fujian carrier is designed and built in China, and the Vikrant in India. Both carriers will take some time to reach their potential, but they are already the most advanced aircraft carriers.

Fujian is China’s third aircraft carrier and the first to be completely designed and built in China. It is considered a potential rival to the US nuclear-powered supercarriers. The Type 003 class carrier is more than 315 meters long and weighs 80,000 tons when fully loaded. This makes it slightly larger than its predecessors, the Type 001 Liaoning and the Type 002 Shandong, which were 304 meters long and displaced 60,000 to 70,000 tons. The Liaoning is a Soviet carrier China purchased in 1998 and extensively modified before entering service in 2012. The Shandong is based on the Liaoning and entered service in 2019.

All three Chinese carriers use conventional engines instead of nuclear reactors, which limits their power and the time they can spend at sea. However, the biggest change is the replacement of the short take-off-arrested-recovery (STOBAR) assembly with the catapult-assisted take-off-arrested-recovery (CATOBAR) assembly used on US aircraft carriers.

STOBAR & CATOBAR

STOBAR allows jets to take off on shorter decks but limits the fuel and weapons they can carry on take-off. The CATOBAR assembly can launch jets with higher payloads and more fuel, which is suitable for China’s only fixed-wing carrier-based aircraft in service, the J-15. Parts of the flight deck were covered when launching in Shanghai on June 17 this year, covering its catapults. But they are believed to use an electromagnetic aircraft launch vehicle (EMALS) to launch aircraft more effectively and frequently. Until Fujian, the only carriers with EMALS were US Navy Ford-class nuclear-powered ships.

Fujian is expected to carry more than 36 aircraft; the number currently carried by Liaoning and Shandong, and will include J-35 and J-15 fighters, UAVs and Z-18 helicopters. The composition and size of the aviation group are still unknown. The dimensions and displacement of the ship, in theory, make it possible to have on board about 40-60 aircraft and helicopters for various purposes, as well as to ensure their operation and combat use.

Due to the length of 320 m and displacement of 80-85 thousand tons, the “Fujian” has already become the largest ship in the history of the PRC fleet. In addition, it turns out to be the largest and heaviest non-nuclear warship in the world, incl. among aircraft carriers.

The new aircraft carrier differs markedly from previous ships for the PLA Navy. During its design and construction, new ideas and components were used, due to which it was planned to obtain a number of advantages.

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