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Nilgiri

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Nilgiri

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MF-STAR on INS Vikrant installed recently. INS Anvesh (BMD + Missile instrumentation ship) can be seen in the background.

There also seems to be fitting out of the Barak 8 VLS cells on the carrier too.


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Indian Navy Conducts Dual Carrier Operations

In the past three weeks, the Indian Navy showcased both of its aircraft carriers at exercise MILAN 2024 and at a biannual naval conference.

Adithya Krishna Menon 10 Mar 2024

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INS Vikrant and INS Vikramaditya during twin carrier operations by the Indian Navy during the biannual Naval Commanders' Conference in March (Photo by Indian MoD)

The Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers, the Russian origin INS Vikramaditya (R33) and the indigenous INS Vikrant (R11), were on full display during the last week of February and the first week of March as the two carriers along with escorts conducted joint operations on multiple locations along the Indian coastline.

Both carriers conducted simultaneous launching of MiG-29K fighters in the first week of March, during which INS Vikramaditya was hosting the first half of Indian Navy’s Biannual Naval Commanders’ Conference 2024. The carriers also hosted and transported multiple journalists to cover the commissioning of the Navy’s latest base, INS Jatayu in Minicoy Island of the Lakshadweep archipelago off the south-western coast of mainland India.

The base has strategic significance due to its proximity to the Maldives, with which India recently has strained ties due to a newly elected anti-India administration in the island state. Minicoy island is eventually planned to get an airstrip and expand to support more substantial naval and air operations.

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Earlier, the carriers had sailed to Visakhapatnam on India’s east coast and home to the Navy’s Eastern Naval Command for international exercise MILAN 2024. MILAN is a biennial exercise first held in 1995. The 2024 edition witnessed over 50 participating nations, 35 vessels and 50 aircraft. INS Vikramaditya berthed at Visakhapatnam for the first time, while it was Vikrant’s first visit to her eventual homeport. INS Vikrant sported its MFSTAR primary radar panels and MRSAM launchers, which were fitted in recent months at Cochin Shipyard Limited. These equipment were absent when the two carriers last sailed together in mid-2023.

At MILAN 2024, both carriers launched various sorties and participated in a group sail with ships and aircraft from Australia, Bangladesh, France, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Russia, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Thailand, U.S.A and Vietnam. Delegations from these nations, among multiple others, were also hosted onboard the carriers. It is notable that India’s Ministry of Defence had stated that there is export interest for the Vikrant carrier design.

The Indian Navy has long maintained that it requires three carriers for sustained operations, with a large CATOBAR equipped design being the eventual choice. However, the associated costs and technological maturity levels has seen the Navy seek a follow-on carrier based on the Vikrant. Discussions regarding this potential acquisition are still ongoing. This project as well as the development of a Twin Engined Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) is also expected to be sanctioned in the coming years.

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The Navy will meanwhile acquire up to 26 Dassault Rafale-M naval fighters from France to complement and partially replace the suboptimal MiG-29K fleet. A contract for the same is likely to be signed in the near future. The possibility of the Navy purchasing a few LCA-Navy aircraft for training purposes also remains open.

During the naval conference, the Indian defence minister had underscored the Indian Navy’s role as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean Region, especially in the backdrop of recent events around the Gulf of Aden. The highly publicised twin carrier operations are intended to highlight this role, even as India seeks to counter the ever-increasing naval presence of China in the region.

 

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Episodes of takeoffs and landings of Indian MiG-29K fighters, Russian-made, from the Indian aircraft carriers INS Vikramaditya R 33 and INS Vikrant R 11. The Vikramaditya aircraft carrier was created on the basis of the deeply modernized Soviet aircraft-carrying cruiser "Admiral Gorshkov", project 1143.4. In the USSR, the ship was launched in 1982, in 2004 it was purchased by India, underwent modernization in Russia, becoming a full-fledged aircraft carrier from an aircraft-carrying cruiser, and in 2013 the ship went to India. The aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, developed jointly by India, Russia and Italy, the development of the ship began in 1999, was launched in 2013 and handed over to the fleet in 2022. This is the first aircraft carrier built in India. The ship took a long time to build, but the country gained its first experience in creating ships of this class.

 

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Work on third aircraft carrier to start soon, more to follow, says Defence Minister​


Ajay Banerjee
New Delhi, May 14​

India will soon start making its third aircraft carrier, said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh while talking to The Tribune. He was referring to the pending proposal of the Navy to make another indigenous carrier same in size as INS Vikrant, which weighed 45,000 tonne and was commissioned in September 2022.

India has one more carrier — INS Vikramaditya — sourced from Russia in 2013. “We will not stop at that (three carriers). We will make five, six more,” said Rajnath.

These are first indications of long-term plans for having sea-going carriers that can launch and recover fighter jets from the deck while sailing. Till now, India has been speaking about having three carriers. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence in January last year suggested the need for having a third sea-going aircraft carrier. It had said, “The reach and flexibility of a carrier is far superior to military airfields in far-flung island territories.” What Rajnath said is setting is a fresh target for India and it matches China’s plan to have aircraft carriers.

Three years ago, a US Department of Defence report, ‘Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2021’, warned, “China continues to build a multi-carrier force. Plans are for six carriers by 2030.”

China has two operational aircraft carriers — Liaoning and Shandong. On May 1, it started a week-long sea trial of its next-generation aircraft carrier Fujian. This is China’s third aircraft carrier and the first equipped with electromagnetic catapults. The US aircraft carriers use the technology of electromagnetic catapults to launch fighter jets from deck. A catapult launch allows jets to carry heavier payload and reduce the time between the launch of two jets.

Fujian, an 80,000 tonne warship, is bigger than carriers made by the UK, France, India and Japan.

Not just India and China, other Asian countries are also racing to project power at sea and make carriers. The Japanese have converted helicopter carrier JS Izumo into an aircraft carrier capable of flying F35. It is converting another helicopter carrier, JS Kaga.

South Korea has a plan to launch a carrier by 2030.

India operated its first carrier — HMS Hercules — in 1961. It was sourced second hand from the UK and was renamed ‘INS Vikrant’. It played an important role during the 1971 India-Pakistan war on the eastern front before getting decommissioned in 1997.

India’s second carrier, HMS Hermes, also sourced second hand from the UK, was renamed INS Viraat. Inducted in 1987, it was decommissioned in 2017.


@Nilgiri

I wonder how we'll play this? If we're going to stop building STOBARs after one more Vikrant-class ship, the future CATOBAR class will have to consist of at least 3-4 ships. Great for economies of scale & keeping CSL busy for a decade-plus, but will take a lot of planning.

Naval AMCA may have to be brought back on the table.
 

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Work on third aircraft carrier to start soon, more to follow, says Defence Minister​


Ajay Banerjee
New Delhi, May 14​

India will soon start making its third aircraft carrier, said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh while talking to The Tribune. He was referring to the pending proposal of the Navy to make another indigenous carrier same in size as INS Vikrant, which weighed 45,000 tonne and was commissioned in September 2022.

India has one more carrier — INS Vikramaditya — sourced from Russia in 2013. “We will not stop at that (three carriers). We will make five, six more,” said Rajnath.

These are first indications of long-term plans for having sea-going carriers that can launch and recover fighter jets from the deck while sailing. Till now, India has been speaking about having three carriers. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence in January last year suggested the need for having a third sea-going aircraft carrier. It had said, “The reach and flexibility of a carrier is far superior to military airfields in far-flung island territories.” What Rajnath said is setting is a fresh target for India and it matches China’s plan to have aircraft carriers.

Three years ago, a US Department of Defence report, ‘Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2021’, warned, “China continues to build a multi-carrier force. Plans are for six carriers by 2030.”

China has two operational aircraft carriers — Liaoning and Shandong. On May 1, it started a week-long sea trial of its next-generation aircraft carrier Fujian. This is China’s third aircraft carrier and the first equipped with electromagnetic catapults. The US aircraft carriers use the technology of electromagnetic catapults to launch fighter jets from deck. A catapult launch allows jets to carry heavier payload and reduce the time between the launch of two jets.

Fujian, an 80,000 tonne warship, is bigger than carriers made by the UK, France, India and Japan.

Not just India and China, other Asian countries are also racing to project power at sea and make carriers. The Japanese have converted helicopter carrier JS Izumo into an aircraft carrier capable of flying F35. It is converting another helicopter carrier, JS Kaga.

South Korea has a plan to launch a carrier by 2030.

India operated its first carrier — HMS Hercules — in 1961. It was sourced second hand from the UK and was renamed ‘INS Vikrant’. It played an important role during the 1971 India-Pakistan war on the eastern front before getting decommissioned in 1997.

India’s second carrier, HMS Hermes, also sourced second hand from the UK, was renamed INS Viraat. Inducted in 1987, it was decommissioned in 2017.


@Nilgiri

I wonder how we'll play this? If we're going to stop building STOBARs after one more Vikrant-class ship, the future CATOBAR class will have to consist of at least 3-4 ships. Great for economies of scale & keeping CSL busy for a decade-plus, but will take a lot of planning.

Naval AMCA may have to be brought back on the table.
I am glad that better sense prevailed at the end. There was a lot of anti carrier propaganda bring peddled by people mainly from the IAF side of getting the same advantage from stationing fighters in andaman. For a country like us who needs to control the oceans for our trade this is the way to go. Submarine gang can cope and seethe 😄.In the end for a country like us we need to invest in both which we are now doing.
 

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Work on third aircraft carrier to start soon, more to follow, says Defence Minister​


Ajay Banerjee
New Delhi, May 14​

India will soon start making its third aircraft carrier, said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh while talking to The Tribune. He was referring to the pending proposal of the Navy to make another indigenous carrier same in size as INS Vikrant, which weighed 45,000 tonne and was commissioned in September 2022.

India has one more carrier — INS Vikramaditya — sourced from Russia in 2013. “We will not stop at that (three carriers). We will make five, six more,” said Rajnath.

These are first indications of long-term plans for having sea-going carriers that can launch and recover fighter jets from the deck while sailing. Till now, India has been speaking about having three carriers. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence in January last year suggested the need for having a third sea-going aircraft carrier. It had said, “The reach and flexibility of a carrier is far superior to military airfields in far-flung island territories.” What Rajnath said is setting is a fresh target for India and it matches China’s plan to have aircraft carriers.

Three years ago, a US Department of Defence report, ‘Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2021’, warned, “China continues to build a multi-carrier force. Plans are for six carriers by 2030.”

China has two operational aircraft carriers — Liaoning and Shandong. On May 1, it started a week-long sea trial of its next-generation aircraft carrier Fujian. This is China’s third aircraft carrier and the first equipped with electromagnetic catapults. The US aircraft carriers use the technology of electromagnetic catapults to launch fighter jets from deck. A catapult launch allows jets to carry heavier payload and reduce the time between the launch of two jets.

Fujian, an 80,000 tonne warship, is bigger than carriers made by the UK, France, India and Japan.

Not just India and China, other Asian countries are also racing to project power at sea and make carriers. The Japanese have converted helicopter carrier JS Izumo into an aircraft carrier capable of flying F35. It is converting another helicopter carrier, JS Kaga.

South Korea has a plan to launch a carrier by 2030.

India operated its first carrier — HMS Hercules — in 1961. It was sourced second hand from the UK and was renamed ‘INS Vikrant’. It played an important role during the 1971 India-Pakistan war on the eastern front before getting decommissioned in 1997.

India’s second carrier, HMS Hermes, also sourced second hand from the UK, was renamed INS Viraat. Inducted in 1987, it was decommissioned in 2017.


@Nilgiri

I wonder how we'll play this? If we're going to stop building STOBARs after one more Vikrant-class ship, the future CATOBAR class will have to consist of at least 3-4 ships. Great for economies of scale & keeping CSL busy for a decade-plus, but will take a lot of planning.

Naval AMCA may have to be brought back on the table.

I thought prioritizing SSN program at this point would have made more sense, no?

Carriers are still more vulnerable from the threats in sub-surface domain. And a SSNn is its most important excort that is organic to the CBG.

If a carrier battle group need to maneuver at 15-20 knots for days in open ocean during a high intensity conflict, SSK escort would be the biggest constrain. As it simply cannot keep up at such speed underwater persistently. Thus, limiting what CBG can do.
 

mammia134

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Perhaps they are not mutually exclusive. As Economy grows, I think Capex of Navy grows. A more fundamental reason is a aspiring Navy can't afford to stop building crucial assets like SSBN, SSKN, SSK(Conventional) and Carriers. The cost to restart a carrier program after a gap will not only be reflected in Increase of Costs exponentially but also dearth of man power whose skills may get dilute in void of any activity, which especially for a country like India is a deathknell unlike traditional naval giants like US, UK etc. Personally I think they should build one carrier per decade to keep the shipyards busy along with design teams to iterate. As for why Carriers? They are the most effective ASuW platform available for India. We can't compete in Surface Combatants or Submarines against Chinese. We build 1, they build 5.
A more compelling argument is whomever the personnel worked on and whatever facilities used to build carrier can't be magically switched to build Submarines tomorrow. Hence, it's purely matter of Capex and not of manpower shortage or facilities. Both of them can run parallely.
Finally, even if we go full emergency mode to realize SSN, we have to realize the 190MW reactor first. Only then we can proceed to build SSKN. And the crucial thing here is not to rush because the consequences would be severe unlike conventional platforms. Nuclear powered platforms are quite slower to progress on.
I thought prioritizing SSN program at this point would have made more sense, no?

Carriers are still more vulnerable from the threats in sub-surface domain. And a SSNn is its most important excort that is organic to the CBG.

If a carrier battle group need to maneuver at 15-20 knots for days in open ocean during a high intensity conflict, SSK escort would be the biggest constrain. As it simply cannot keep up at such speed underwater persistently. Thus, limiting what CBG can do.
 

Gessler

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I thought prioritizing SSN program at this point would have made more sense, no?

Carriers are still more vulnerable from the threats in sub-surface domain. And a SSNn is its most important excort that is organic to the CBG.

If a carrier battle group need to maneuver at 15-20 knots for days in open ocean during a high intensity conflict, SSK escort would be the biggest constrain. As it simply cannot keep up at such speed underwater persistently. Thus, limiting what CBG can do.

They're talking about a completely different timeframe here. This is a long-term carrier building program which is important to have if you don't want to keep re-learning how to build +40k ton vessels after every decade.

SSNs are a strategic priority - there never was a question about not funding them, that's not an option. The issue was where would the money come from, either Navy's budget or requisitioned directly by the PMO/Union Cabinet as is the case for the SSBNs.
 

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