The Indian Navy is confident of a positive response from the government on its demand for a third aircraft carrier and the warship will be designed to accommodate both fighter jets and unmanned aerial vehicles, people familiar with the development said on Tuesday. At present, India has only one aircraft carrier — INS Vikramadityawhich is a Russian origin platform. Indigenously built aircraft carrier (IAC) INS Vikrant is expected to be fully operational by 2022.
The people cited above said discussions on various aspects of the third aircraft carrier were on and that its overall displacement may be brought down from the proposed 65,000 tonnes to bring down cost and time for its construction.
“We are looking at various aspects of the project. It will be designed to accommodate both fighter jets and unmanned aerial vehicles,” said a source.
At a press conference, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh last year said that a third aircraft carrier for India is “absolutely necessary” to further expand its maritime prowess.
The people cited above said the third aircraft carrier project is set to be included in the modified 15-year Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP) of the Indian Navy.
The Navy is modifying the MCPP in view of time overrun in certain projects as well as to align it with the 10-year Integrated Capability Development Plan (ICDP) being worked out by the Department of Military Affairs to ensure a tri-services approach in meeting future security challenges.
Asked about the third aircraft carrier, Vice Admiral Satish Namdeo Ghormade, the Vice Chief of Naval Staff, said the requirement of the third aircraft carrier will be factored in when the plan is made.
“All these, the aircraft carrier (third), the submarines and maritime patrol aircraft, will have a definite role. To make a balanced force, all these are required for the capability of the country,” he told reporters at an event.
The IAC Vikrant has been built at a cost of around Rs 23,000 crore.
In August, it completed a five-day maiden sea voyage and the performance of its key systems was found to be satisfactory.
In February last year, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat had indicated that the Indian Navy may not get approval for a third aircraft carrier anytime soon as the priority is to bolster its submarine fleet.
Gen Rawat had said that cost could be a major factor in deciding on the issue as aircraft carriers are “very expensive”.