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India’s First Indigenously-Built Aircraft Carrier

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to commission India’s first indigenously-built aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, as Delhi seeks to modernize its naval forces and counter increased Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean.

INS Vikrant Aircraft carrier and the INS Kolkata
INS Vikrant Aircraft carrier and the INS Kolkata
India's first indigenously built aircraft carrier the INS Vikrant compared to chinese aircraft carriers
Graphic by Jordi Bou

The INS Vikrant catapults India into a small club of nations that can build these elite warships.

Experts consider having an aircraft carrier essential to be considered a “blue water” navy – that is, a navy that has the capacity to project a nation’s strength and power across the high seas.

India has had aircraft carriers earlier too – but those were built either by the British or the Russians. The INS Vikramaditya, which was commissioned in 2013 and which is currently the Navy’s only aircraft carrier, started out as the Soviet-Russian warship ‘Admiral Gorshkov.’

India’s two earlier carriers, the INS Vikrant and the INS Viraat, were originally the British-built HMS Hercules and HMS Hermes. These two warships were commissioned into the Navy in 1961 and 1987, respectively.

Since 2015, the Navy has been seeking approval to build a third aircraft carrier for the country, which, if approved, will become India’s second Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-2). This proposed carrier, to be named INS Vishal, is intended to be a giant 65,000-tonne vessel, much bigger than both IAC-1 and the INS Vikramaditya.

Although there is still a big gap between the Vikrant and China's third aircraft carrier Fujian, which was launched in June, India's long and arduous road to producing the Vikrant shows New Delhi's ambition and determination to become a maritime power.

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