- Prelims:, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), IAC, INS Vikrant, CATOBAR, STOBAR etc
- Mains GS Paper II and III: Science and technology-Development and their applications and effects in everyday life etc
- The Indian Navy had put on hold its plans to build a second indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-2) that is larger than IAC-1 (INS Vikrant).
- Instead it is considering the option of a repeat order of the IAC-1.
INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE
INS Vikrant (IAC-1):
- It is the first aircraft carrier built in India and the first Vikrant-class aircraft carrier built by Cochin Shipyard (CSL) in Kochi, Kerala for the Indian Navy.
- It has an air component of 30 aircraft, comprising:
- MiG-29K fighter jets,
- Kamov-31 airborne early warning helicopters
- MH-60R multi-role helicopter
- Indigenous Advanced Light Helicopters.
- Speed: It is expected to have a top speed of 30 knots (approximately 55 kmph) and is propelled by four gas turbines.
- Endurance: 7,500 nautical miles at 18 knots (32 kmph) speed.
- The shipborne weapons include:
- Barak LR SAM
- Sensors: MFSTAR and RAN-40L 3D radars.
- The vessel has a Shakti EW (Electronic Warfare) Suite.
- It has a pair of runways and a ‘short take off but arrested recovery’ system to control aircraft operations.
Classification of carriers:
In terms of weight:
- Light carriers: can carry up to 25 aircraft
- Medium-sized: around 30 to 50 aircraft
- Large/super-carriers: can carry over 90 aircraft.
In terms of role categorized as:
- air defense
- amphibious assault
- anti-submarine warfare (helicopter) carriers.
In terms of the methodology used to launch and recover aircraft:
- Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR)
- Short Take-off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR)
- vertical/short take-off and landing (V/STOL) carriers.
- CATOBAR-type light carrier: designed for fleet air defense.
- It could carry between 21 to 23 aircraft (including helicopters).
- INS Viraat (British-built): 28,000 tonnes is a V/STOL-type light fleet air defense carrier, with an air wing of 26 to 30 aircraft and helicopters.
- Its Sea Harrier aircraft also possessed dedicated land attack capability.
- INS Vikramaditya (Russian-built): 45,000 tonnes, is a medium-sized STOBAR-type aircraft carrier,
- It is capable of both fleet air defense and land attack
- carrying up to 30 aircraft and helicopters.
- INS Vikrant IAC-1) is almost similar in size, classification, role and capability to INS Vikramaditya.
- China’s first two aircraft carriers displace over 65,000 tonnes
- Its third indigenously designed and built carrier, Fujian: displaces 85,000 tonnes, with a possible air wing of 60-odd aircraft.
- Future plans for a seven-ship carrier force: build nuclear-powered supercarriers of over 1,00,000 tonnes
- The expertise gained from the design and the construction of IAC-I: It will also enable faster development if a new and larger ship design is approved by the Government.
- The Indian Navy envisaged a medium-sized CATOBAR aircraft carrier in the region of 50,000 tonnes-65,000 tonnes, as a follow-up to INS Vikrant.
- Fall-back plan for a repeat order: It would ensure that valuable infrastructure, design capability, ship-building expertise and the indigenous industrial ecosystem, built through extensive investment and effort over two decades, are not lost.
- Development of aircraft carrier: While aircraft carriers are designed for ‘arrested recovery’ of aircraft, India should not allow the development of its aircraft carrier programme itself to be ‘arrested’.
QUESTION FOR PRACTICE
Q. How is the S-400 air defense system technically superior to any other system presently available in the world ?(UPSC 2021) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)