India eyes UK design for its next aircraft carrier

HMS Queen Elizabeth

India appears to be edging towards adopting the design of UK’s Queen Elizabeth class for its projected third aircraft carrier.

UK’s BAE Systems revealed earlier this year that negotiations with New Delhi over a prospective deal to construct such a vessel, to be named Vishal, in India, are underway. More recently, talks involving UK’s Vice Chief of Defence Staff, and Indian officials, confirmed that naval links between UK and India are being upgraded, in order to help facilitate the deal.

Tarkash and Defender in the English Channel

August 2019 saw the UK destroyer Defender and the Indian frigate Tarkash exercising together in the English Channel, and there are plans for Queen Elizabeth to carry out operations with Indian Navy (IN) warships in Asian waters in 2021. A British Royal Navy liaison officer, furthermore, will shortly be posted to the IN Information Fusion Centre at Gurgaon.

India has decided to adopt a proven overseas design, following a range of problems encountered with the construction, at Cochin, of its first indigenously built carrier, Vikrant. This project is some four years behind schedule, and the ship is unlikely to be commissioned before 2023. The IN is, reportedly, particularly interested in Queen Elizabeth’s very quiet gas turbine/electric propulsion system.

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