The Navy’s first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) will not be ready before 2017, overshooting the delivery schedule by more than three years, Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma has admitted.
“There were problems in manufacturing the gear box, which involves complex technology. The truck bringing generators overturned near Pune last year, further delaying the schedule,” Verma said.
The keel of the 40,000 tonne-carrier was launched on February 28, 2009 by defence minister A K Antony when the Navy and Cochin Shipyard aimed at launching the ship in water by 2010 and equipping it with arms and fighter aircraft in another four years.
To be named ‘INS Vikrant’, the carrier was to be inducted in the service by 2014.
With almost three years‘ delay now, IAC’s launch in water may happen only sometime in 2013 or early 2014.
Its design was initially approved by the government in 2003. The modular construction began in 2005.
Explaining the problem encountered with the gear box, a navy officer said the Indian company picked for the job could not meet the laid down specifications.
After some time lapse, a German firm, was roped in and the manufacture expedited. The first gear box has already been shipped and the second is on its way.
IAC-2 with improved features and bigger was on anvil but its final configuration was yet to be finalised, the Navy chief said.
Though he would not specify if IAC-2 would have advanced features like catapult-assisted take off from deck, barrier-assisted recovery and nuclear-powered engine, the Navy chief added that version 2 would almost sure to be heavier than IAC-1.
The Navy, however, has 46 ships under construction and acceptance of necessity for 49 more ships and submarines have been obtained.
The 95 ships in the pipeline includes not only indigenous versions but also warships in foreign yards.
For instance, the Navy plans to make two mine hunters at a South Korean yard after which six more such ships will be made at Goa Shipyard under technology transfer.
The same strategy may be adopted in P-75I to construct six additional diesel-electric submarine with air-independent propulsion technology.
A couple of submarines may be constructed at a foreign yard and the remaining four in India under technology transfer.
Admiral Verma, who retires on August 31, said the Navy’s ambitious acquisition was more to carry out mandated tasks in the Indian Ocean rather than changing security dynamics in the Asia-Pacific after USA declared its intent of shifting more naval assets in the Pacific.
Verma will be replaced by Admiral D K Joshi, who is currently commanding the western naval command in Mumbai.
Asian Defence News