Indian Navy Carrier Deployment and Development Plans
Despite scepticism over viability of large aircraft carriers, Indian Navy will continue with the plans of fielding three carriers in the future.
Chief Naval Admiral Sunil Lanba speaking to Manu Pubby of Economic Times indicated that the Indian Navy will be fielding three aircraft carriers as planned possibly by the end of the next decade.
The Navy will be floating a proposal for Acceptance of Necessity from the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) shortly as per Admiral Lanba for the second indigenously developed carrier. The first INS Vikrant is presently undergoing fitment before trials.
At present the Indian Navy fields the INS Vikramaditya procured from Russia.
For the second indigenously developed carrier names Vishal the Navy will be going in for a 65,000 tonne CATOBAR (Catapult Assisted Take Off but Arrested Recovery) vessel which will be conventionally powered. The carrier will deploy 57 fighters.
The CATOBAR launch system will provide the Navy the capability to launch a variety of aircraft including heavier airborne early warning or fighters which do not have a higher thrust.
Details of Indian Navy carriers is covered as below.
INS Vikramaditya has an overall length of about 284 meters and a maximum beam of about 60 meters, stretching as much as three football fields put together and has a 44,500 tonne mega structure of steel with total of 22 decks.
The STOBAR Carrier has aircraft component of MiG 29K, Kamov 31, Kamov 28, Seaking, ALH, Chetak. With a capacity of over 8,000 tonnes of LSHSD, she is powered by 08 new generation steam boilers generating a total output power of 180,000 SHP. These boilers power four enormous propellers, each greater in diameter than twice the height of an average male.
She is capable of operations up to a range of over 7,000 nautical miles or 13000 kms as per the Indian Navy website.
The MiG 29K swing role fighter is the main offensive platform of Vikaramditya and provides a quantum jump for the Indian Navy’s maritime strike capability.
These fourth generation air superiority fighters provide a significant fillip for the Indian Navy with a range of over 700 nm and an array of weapons including anti-ship missiles, Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missiles, guided bombs and rockets.
The ship is equipped with state of the art launch and recovery systems along with aids to enable smooth and efficient operation of ship borne aircraft.
Major systems include the LUNA Landing system for MiGs, DAPS Landing system for Sea Harriers and Flight deck lighting systems.
An extensive revamp of sensors including fitment of Long range Air Surveillance Radars, Advanced Electronic Warfare Suite makes the ship capable of maintaining a surveillance bubble of over 500 kms around the ship as per the Indian Navy website.
The first indigenously built aircraft carrier likely to be launched for trials from the Cochin Shipyard in December 2018 is the INS Vikrant 37,500 tonne Short Take off but Assisted Recovery (STOBAR) Carrier.
The ship has designed length of about 260 m and breadth of 60 m.
Vikrant will be capable of operating an aircraft mix of the Russian MiG-29K and another selected fighter.
Its helicopter component will include the Kamov 31 or alternative being procured by the Navy and the indigenously developed ALH helicopters. The ship’s ability to sense and control a large air space around it will be enabled by modern C/D band Early Air Warning Radar, V/UHF Tactical Air Navigational and Direction Finding systems, jamming capabilities over the expected Electro Magnetic (EM) environment and Carrier Control Approach Radars to aid air operations.
Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR SAM) systems with Multi-Function Radar (MFR) and Close- In Weapon System (CIWS) will form the protective suite of the ship. All weapon systems onboard the carrier will be integrated through an indigenous Combat Management System (CMS), being manufactured by Tata Power systems. The ship’s integration with Navy’s Network Centric Operations will provide force multiplication as per the Indian Navy website.
Future Development – US Centred
India and the United States have formed a joint working group for cooperation in carrier technology.
The 4th meeting of the Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Co-operation (JWGACTC), constituted under the auspices of the Indo – US Defence Trade and Technology Initiative, was organised in India from 29 Oct to 03 Nov 17.
A 13 member US delegation, headed by Rear Admiral Brian Antonio, Program Executive Officer Aircraft Carriers, visited the Shore Based Test Facility at Goa, Naval Base at Karwar, INS Vikramaditya at sea, Mazagaon Dock Limited and Headquarters Western Naval Command. The concluding session of the Joint Working Group Meeting was held on 03 Nov 17 at New Delhi and was co-chaired by Vice Admiral DM Deshpande, Controller Warship Production and Acquisition, and Rear Admiral Brian Antonio, Program Executive Officer Aircraft Carriers.
Aspects of aircraft carrier technology such as design optimisation, construction philosophy, trials procedure and project management are under discussion.
It is believed that the JWGACTC is discussing an EMALS based launch capability for the aircraft carrier which now apparently is likely to be operationalised in possibly the third in the series. Nuclear powered propulsion was also under discussion, however progress made is not clear.