New Delhi to greenlight $4.8 billion aircraft carrier
India’s Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) has pre-approved the purchase of a $4.8 billion aircraft carrier, PTI news agency reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed government officials. The outlet added that the vessel would be built domestically.
The DAC, India’s highest decision-making body on purchases of materiel, headed by Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, is likely to meet on Thursday and examine the proposal for the carrier.
India has been looking to boost its naval capabilities amid rising concerns over China’s increasing forays into the Indian Ocean region. Last month, Admiral R. Hari Kumar, India’s chief of naval staff, said that the Indian Navy has been seeking to procure a second domestically-produced carrier which would be a “repeat” of the INS Vikrant.
India currently operates two aircraft carriers – the Soviet-built INS Vikramaditya and the INS Vikrant. The latter was built for around $3.2 billion by Cochin Shipyard Limited, a public sector shipbuilder under the federal government’s Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways, and commissioned in September 2022.
About 90% of the hull, 50% of the machinery and 30% of the weapons and sensors of the Vikrant are designed and built in India. According to reports, the IAC II will be based on the Vikrant model and built at the Cochin shipyard. The documentation work for the new vessel was completed in December 2022.
India’s first aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya, was originally named the Baku and served with the Soviet and Russian navies before India purchased it for $2.35 billion in 2004. After a massive makeover at the Russian shipyard in Severodvinsk, the carrier was commissioned on November 16, 2013.
According to PTI, the council is also likely to consider a proposal for 97 more Tejas Mark-1A aircraft, two years after New Delhi commissioned the procurement of 83 Tejas MK-1A jets with state-run aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). Last week, India’s prime minister reviewed the ongoing activity at HAL’s manufacturing base in Bengaluru, Karnataka.