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India's second indigenous aircraft carrier gets go-ahead from Defence Procurement Board


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Talking to TNIE, officials had said that given the Chinese belligerence in the Indian Ocean, India will have to extend its air power into far-off areas like the Malacca Strait and the Gulf of Aden. NEW DELHI: In an important move towards government approval for India's second indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-2), the Defence Procurement Board (DPB) has moved ahead with the proposal of the Indian Navy. Sources confirmed the decision of the DPB and added that this, along with other proposals, will be placed before the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) soon. The DPB is the body constituted to vet the capital proposals of the services which are eventually placed before the Defence Minister-chaired DAC. As per procedure, it is the DAC that grants the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) which sets the procedure for acquisition. The Defence Acquisition Council is the highest decision-making body on issues related to policy and capital procurement and is chaired by the Defence Minister. As reported earlier by TNIE, the files for another indigenous aircraft carrier were already at an advanced stage and will get the government approvals. Besides, plans for a third and larger aircraft carrier have been set in motion, the source said. In addition, TNIE reported in February that in order to maintain its operational capabilities, the Indian Navy will continue the study for its third indigenous aircraft carrier which will be larger than IAC-2. The Navy’s confirmation for IAC-2 on the lines of the IAC-1 commissioned as INS Vikrant were given with the documentation completed in December 2022. It was on the sidelines of Aero India 2023 that Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar said, “Initially we will go for the repeat order with improved capabilities. And in the meantime, we will go for a study of larger carriers. By the time a third aircraft is commissioned, the life-span of INS Vikramaditya may end.” Some changes were made to the initial plans of IAC-2 which was supposed to be bigger than IAC-1 in size. “The size of INS Vikrant is 44,000 tonnes and we wanted the IAC-2 to be around 65,000 tonnes.” The move for a repeat order of IAC-1 is based on multiple factors, including construction time, cost and the trajectory of indigenization of aviation assets. As per the Navy, a new aircraft carrier equipped with newer technologies will have to take into account the fresh versions of landing through catapult system. The ship-building facility will have to be upgraded. Talking to TNIE, officials had said that given the Chinese belligerence in the Indian Ocean, the country will have to extend its air power into far-off areas such as the Malacca Strait on one side, and the Gulf of Aden on the other. “The concentration of force is a principle of war. If you have two operationally ready carriers, you can be active in two areas. If needed, you can move them, bringing a different environment to the battle,” said a source. An aircraft carrier is a floating airfield and adds to the surge capability as the fighter jets operating from land will always have their limitations. “Operationally, new technologies and drones are coming in which can be launched from the carrier. The Indian Navy requires three carriers because if one of them goes for maintenance, the force still has two carriers for months. An aircraft carrier has lengthy maintenance schedules,” said the source. This has been the case with the refit of India’s lone aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya which started in the beginning of 2021 and was completed around August this year. With one aircraft carrier still under maintenance and one yet to be inducted, the Indian Navy will be operating a carrier for some more time. The Navy has been maintaining the three carriers-based force structure so that it can operate two of them in maritime zones on each side of the Indian coastline — eastern and western coasts. INS Vikramaditya was originally a Russian carrier Admiral Gorshkov which was commissioned in 2013 after total refurbishing. The 44,500-tonne INS Vikramaditya has an airfield with an overall length of about 284 metres. As reported by TNIE in December, the Navy completed all the documentation work on the repeat orders and it is expected that the approvals from the government will come soon. The new aircraft carrier is also expected to be of 45,000 displacements with STOBAR (short take-off but arrested recovery or short take-off, barrier-arrested recovery) technology. Why India needs three aircraft carriers An aircraft carrier is a floating airfield. Fighter jets operating from land have their limitations. By the time the 3rd aircraft carrier is commissioned, the life-span of INS Vikramaditya may end, leaving the Navy with 2 carriers. The Indian Navy requires three aircraft carriers because of the maintenance factor. The move for a repeat order of IAC-1 is based on construction time, cost and indigenization of aviation assets. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)