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Indian Navy takes delivery of aircraft carrier Vikrant, receives 1st MH-60R helos from US

INS Vikrant
Indian Navy photo of INS Vikrant during sea trials

The Indian Navy has officially officially taken delivery of its first indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant from shipbuilder Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL).

The ship’s delivery marks the end of a project that began with a contract award in 2007 and a keel laying ceremony in 2009.

INS Vikrant is christened after her illustrious predecessor, India’s first aircraft carrier which played a vital role in the 1971 war.

The 262 meter long carrier has a full displacement of close to 45,000 tons which is much larger and advanced than her predecessor. The ship is powered by four gas turbines totaling 88 MW power and has a maximum speed of 28 knots.

While it was designed locally by Cochin, Vikrant shares some of the design features with the current Indian Navy flagship and former Soviet carrier INS Vikramaditya, with the most obvious being the ski jump ramp that facilitates the launch of fixed-wing aircraft. India bought Vikramaditya from Russia in 2004 and commissioned it in 2013.

Using the STOBAR (Short Take- Off but Arrested Landing) aircraft operation mode, the ship is capable of operating an air wing consisting of 30 aircraft comprising of MIG-29K fighter jets, Kamov-31, MH-60R multi-role helicopters, in addition to indigenously manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) (Navy). Vikrant is equipped with a ski- jump for launching aircraft, and a set of ‘arrester wires’ for their recovery onboard.

Photo: Indian Navy

Coinciding with the official delivery of the ship, the Indian Navy received the first tranche of MH-60R helicopters at Kochi airport. The helicopters, which will replace India’s Westland Sea King and Kamov Ka-28 helicopters, arrived in India after being handed over in June 2021 in the US. They will be equipped with Hellfire missiles, Mark 54 torpedoes, precision-kill rockets and multi-mode radars.

Fatal Indian Air Force MiG-21 crash

The good news for the Indian Navy were marred by the fatal crash of an Indian Air Force MiG 21 trainer on July 28. The aircraft crashed at 9:10 pm local time during a training sortie, claiming the lives of two pilots on board.

A court of inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident, the service said.