India commissioned its first domestically manufactured aircraft carrier in September 2022, underlining New Delhi’s efforts to boost domestic production to supply a military deployed on two contentious borders.
After 17 years of construction and tests, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned the INS Vikrant, pictured — the Navy’s second operational aircraft carrier and the largest warship ever built in India — at the Cochin Shipyard Ltd. in Kochi, Kerala.
“Today, India has joined those countries in the world which can manufacture such a huge aircraft carrier with indigenous technology,” Modi said. “It is a symbol of indigenous potential, indigenous resources and indigenous skills.”
Designed to accommodate a crew of 1,600 and 30 aircraft, the INS Vikrant initially will carry Russian-designed MIG-29K aircraft that already operate from India’s other carrier, the INS Vikramaditya, which India bought from Russia.
Two manufacturers, the United States-based Boeing and France’s Dassault, are seeking to provide India with more than two dozen jets for the INS Vikrant.
India is one of the world’s largest arms importers, spending U.S. $12.4 billion between 2018 and 2021, but it has been seeking to develop its own manufacturing capabilities as key supplier Russia faces sanctions over its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
India has identified about 8,000 imported defense items worth about U.S. $1 trillion that it wants domestic firms to manufacture, according to its Defence Ministry.
“India is working with all its might to become self-reliant,” Modi said, referring to domestically built Tejas light-combat aircraft and artillery.
The INS Vikrant will allow the Indian Navy to operate an aircraft carrier on each seaboard, alongside its 10 destroyers, 12 frigates and 20 corvettes.
“Security concerns in the Indo-Pacific region and the Indian Ocean have long been ignored,” Modi said. “But today this area is a major defense priority for our country.” Reuters