Monday, August 12, 2013

DTN News - INDIA DEFENSE NEWS: India Launches Indigenously Built Aircraft Carrier

DTN News - INDIA DEFENSE NEWS: India Launches Indigenously Built Aircraft Carrier
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith 
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - August 12, 2013: India has launched an indigenously built aircraft carrier, joining a small group of countries capable of building such a warship.The project is part of India's efforts to enhance its naval capabilities amid a growing regional rivalry with the other Asian giant, China.

Standing in front of the 37,500 ton warship decorated with flags and buntings in the southern city of Kochi on Monday, Defense Minister A.K. Antony called it a “red letter day [a day of special significance] for the nation.”

There was an outpouring of national pride at the carrier's launch. India's biggest warship has been designed and built locally, making it the fifth country after Britain, France, Russia and the United States to do so.

The aircraft carrier is not yet operational. It will be fitted with advanced weaponry and undergo extensive sea trials before being put into service sometime around 2018. 

But defense analysts point out that New Delhi has beaten its regional rival, China, in building an indigenous aircraft carrier.

Uday Bhaskar, former director of the National Maritime Foundation in New Delhi, said it is the first time India has embarked on such an ambitious project. “For a country that does not have any significant indigenous capability, we don't make a main battle tank, we don't make an artillery gun, we don't even make a personal weapon. Forget about trainer aircraft and jet aircraft. So against this backdrop, to come to a point where you are able to design a carrier, and bring it from keel to launch is, for India, a technological and industrial accomplishment of considerable significance,” said Bhaskar.

Defense Minister Antony said India needs a strong navy to defend itself and will press ahead with developing its maritime capabilities.

Vikrant's launch comes just two days after India announced that its first indigenously built nuclear submarine was ready for war trials. That was described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a “giant stride” for the nation.

India's efforts to boost its naval capabilities come amid a growing rivalry with regional power, China.  One of the critical areas where they are competing for influence is the Indian Ocean region, a busy sea lane. 

Rahul Bedi in New Delhi is a defense expert with Jane's Defense Weekly. He said an aircraft carrier will help India project its power in the Indian Ocean, which he calls a potential zone of conflict between major powers. “The navy is one of the principal riders and game changers in this whole region. So this will significantly add punch to the Indian navy in the Indian Ocean region, which is going to be a zone of competition for many, many years to come,” he said. India has one aircraft carrier in operation, and Russia is due to deliver another one later this year. 

 The launch of INS Vikrant has raised hackles in China, with Chinese defence experts saying the aircraft carrier would have great significance for India as it would allow the Indian Navy to wade into the Pacific Ocean - which Beijing considers as its backyard.

"This bears great significance to Indian Navy. It makes India only the fifth country after the US, Russia, Britain and France to have such capabilities," senior captain Zhang Junshe, vice-president of China's Naval Research Institute, told the state-run CCTV on Monday.

The Indian Navy will have lead over China as it will have two aircraft carriers by the end of this year with INS Vikramaditya, the refitted carrier from Russia joining INS Viraat, which is already in service even though Vikrant was expected to be operational by 2018, he said.

"Which means by the end of this year India will become the only country in Asia to have two aircraft carriers. This will enhance the overall capabilities especially the power projection capabilities of the Indian Navy," Zhang said.

Ruling out any race for more carriers in the region, Zhang defended India and China having more carriers since they have vast coasts and huge populations and the importance of defending the sea lanes far from home due to dependence on external trade.

Last year China has launched its first aircraft carrier, Lioning. Its hull was imported from Ukraine and refurbished in China.

China also subsequently launched J-15 aircraft to operate from its deck. The ship with over 50,000 tonnes displacement will have about 30 aircraft on its deck.

China is reportedly building two more aircraft carriers but their schedules are not known yet.

Zhang earlier told the state-run China Daily that with Vikrant, the Indian Navy will be more capable of patrolling distant oceans.

"India's first self-made carrier, along with reinforced naval strength, will further disrupt the military balance in South Asia," he said.

India is very likely to quicken its pace to steer eastward to the Pacific, where the US and China are competing to dominate.

The launch of the Vikrant as well as the first nuclear submarine Arihant also aroused the curiosity and concerns among analysts from different state-run thinktanks in China.

"The new indigenous carrier will further strengthen India's naval power and also add some bargaining chips with the world's major military vendors such as Russia," Wang Daguang, a researcher of military equipment based in Beijing said.

Song Xiaojun, a military commentator in Beijing, said the Vikrant uses technology from the 1980s and thus serves as an experiment for the Indian Navy to set technical standards for future vessels.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith - DTN News
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*Photograph: IPF (International Pool of Friends) + DTN News / otherwise source stated
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News