India will start constructing its third aircraft carrier in another three years, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba asserted on Monday.
“It would be a 65,000 tonnes ship with conventional propulsion and CATOBAR (catapult-based aircraft launch system) facility. The construction would start within the next three years and take seven to ten years for completion,” the Navy Chief said in his annual media interaction ahead of the Navy Day.
India currently has only one operational aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. A second carrier named Vikrant is under construction at Cochin Shipyard and likely to commence its sea trials by 2020. Russian-origin MiG-29K fighter jets would operate from the decks of both.
Having a third aircraft carrier would enable the Indian Navy to operate two Carrier Battle Groups at any point of time, fulfilling its long-term objective of control and domination of the Indian Ocean Region.
The Navy, however, is yet to decide on the type of the fighter aircraft that would take off from the decks of the third carrier.
Navy Chief’s assertion on the construction of the third aircraft carrier comes at a time when China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) moves ahead with its plan of constructing four aircraft carriers by 2022.
China’s first carrier, the Liaoning, was commissioned in 2012. In April 2018, China launched its second carrier, tentatively named Type 002, which is more or less a copy of Liaoning.
Admiral Lanba said the Navy secured government permission to construct 56 ships and submarines, which would include additional ships, replacement ships and India’s second submarine assembly line known as P-75I.
With French collaboration, the first submarine (Scorpene) production line is operational at Mazgaon dock in Mumbai.
The first submarine INS Kalvari was commissioned in the service in 2017 and the second one to be named INS Khanderi is expected to be commissioned shortly as it completed all trials. “The third and fourth in the line – Karanj and Vela – are now going through pre-induction trials,” Navy Chief said.
Admiral Lanba confirmed that the Russian origin nuclear-powered submarine INS Chakra was back into the service after an accident and indigenous N-powered underwater boat INS Arihant completed its first deterrent patrol.
The Navy is also set to commission its first deep-submergence rescue vehicles in Mumbai later this month and a second DSRV at Visakhapatnam later.
“By 2050, we hope to have a Navy with 200 ships and 500 aircraft truly reflecting India’s maritime prowess,” he added.