The Indian navy has uploaded a series of pictures on social media from the deck of India’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. The deck of the vessel is seen with Mig29K’s and ALH (Advanced Light Helicopters) parked.
The ship recently completed its fifth and the last phase of sea trials. And is said to be handed over to the Indian Navy on India’s 75th anniversary of independence on 15th August of this year.
INS Vikrant is India’s first locally built aircraft carrier. Which was built by Cochin Shipyard Limited in the city of Kochi. It was laid down in 2009, launched in 2013 and has been undergoing sea trials since 2021.
INS Vikrant to be inducted soon
Despite the carrier being inducted into the Navy pan of less than a month. A concrete decision about the ship’s air wing has not been made yet. The Indian Navy uses the Russian Mig29K fighter jets on top of its aircraft carriers. However, the numbers of this jet are not adequate to fill both the carriers up and run them to their full potential. Thus the Migs can be used on top to test their STOBAR (Short Takeoff But Arrested Recovery) configuration but not for full-fledged combat.
The Navy has been offered the American F/A-18 Super Hornet and the French Rafale M to be operated from the decks of its carriers. And compensate for the inadequate numbers of Mig29ks. Both these aircraft have performed ski jump take-off testing from the navy’s test facility in INS Hansa, Goa and are awaiting an order for 27 units.
Both F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Rafale have its pro and cons- with Rafale coming with a higher payload capacity. And commonality with the IAF’s Rafales. On the other hand, the wings of the jet do not fold and occupy greater space on the flight deck. And hangar under the deck. The Super Hornet is more cost-effective to procure and operate, can fold its wings to fit compactly on the deck. But has a lesser payload capacity.
Other than the air wing, the ship has not received its Israeli-built primary radar, EL/M-2248 MF-STAR radar yet. This delay could be due to the global chip shortage that has been affecting the defence and IT industry. Since the pandemic started as several Israeli-made components and systems have been delivered late. The radar will be assembled and operational before the vessel is delivered to the Navy.