VESSEL REVIEW | Vikrant – Indian Navy places locally-built aircraft carrier into service

Photo: Indian Navy

The Indian Navy recently commissioned the first aircraft carrier to be built in India, INS Vikrant (“Courageous”).

The new ship shares its name with an earlier aircraft carrier that India acquired from the United Kingdom in 1957. The first INS Vikrant, formerly the UK Royal Navy’s Majestic-class carrier HMS Hercules, served under the Indian flag from 1961 to 1997.

Built by Cochin Shipyard (CSL) in Kerala state to a design by the Indian Navy’s own Warship Design Bureau, the second Vikrant has a length of 262 metres, a beam of 62 metres, a draught of 8.4 metres, and a displacement of 45,000 tonnes at full load. The carrier is also notable for being the first Indian Navy ship to be built entirely from locally produced steel.

Four GE LM2500 gas turbines that produce a combined 80 MW and drive Elecon Engineering gearboxes enable the massive ship to reach a top speed of 30 knots or sail for up to 8,000 nautical miles. The steering system was supplied by Larsen and Toubro, which also installed the watertight hatches and the main switchboard.

Photo: Indian Navy

The carrier will have an embarked air wing consisting of 26 MiG-29K multi-role fighter aircraft and 10 Ka-31 or Sea King helicopters for utility, anti-submarine warfare, and airborne early warning and control duties. The fixed-wing aircraft are launched from and recovered aboard the flight deck via a short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) system with a prominent forward ski jump similar to that fitted on India’s other active aircraft carrier, the slightly larger INS Vikramaditya.

Vikrant’s aviation facilities will also be configured to accommodate a new type of locally-built, carrier-based fighter aircraft that will operate alongside the MiG-29Ks beginning in the 2030s..

The armament meanwhile consists of Barak 8 surface-to-air missiles, Leonardo 76mm naval guns, and AK-630 30mm close-in weapon systems (CIWS) for point defence against anti-ship missiles and low-flying aircraft. A Tata Power SED combat management system is used in conjunction with an Elta Systems multi-function radar and a Leonardo L-band air surveillance radar to provide targeting and fire control direction for the ship’s defensive weaponry.

The carrier has 2,300 berthing compartments for up to 196 officers and 1,449 enlisted sailors. Some compartments are laid out for use by female crewmembers. Other onboard facilities include a hospital complex and equipment for supplying fresh water, making the ship suitable for the secondary role of humanitarian aid and disaster response. Air conditioning for the interior spaces is supplied by the Kirloskar Group.

Although already commissioned into service, Vikrant will undergo additional aircraft trials until 2023.

Photo: Indian Ministry of Defence
INS Vikrant
Type of vessel:Aircraft carrier
Owner:Indian Navy
Designer:Warship Design Bureau, India
Builder:Cochin Shipyard, India
Hull construction material:Steel
Superstructure construction material:Steel
Deck construction material:Steel
Length overall:262 metres
Beam:62 metres
Draught:8.4 metres
Displacement:45,000 tonnes
Capacity:36 aircraft
Main engines:4 x GE LM2500, each 20 MW
Gearboxes:4 x Electon Engineering
Steering system:Larsen and Toubro
Maximum speed:30 knots
Range:8,000 nautical miles
Radars:Leonardo L-band; Elta Systems
Other electronics:Tata Power SED combat management system
Armaments:Barak 8 surface-to-air missiles; Leonardo 76mm naval guns; AK-630 30mm close-in weapon systems
Other equipment installed:Kirloskar Group AC system
Accommodation:2,300 x berthing compartments; hospital complex

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