NEW DELHI, Aug 11: It is Jai Ho! time for India as it joined an elite club of nations by launching its first indigenously built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant at Kochi shipyard on Monday.
Elisabeth Antony, wife of defence minister AK Antony, launched the 37,500-tonne carrier which is 260 metres long and 60 metres wide, making it twice the size of a football field.
On its vast 2.5 acre deck, the INS Vikrant is capable of carrying up to 30 aircraft: 12 MiG-29Ks, eight Tejas Light Combat Aircraft and 10 Kamov-31 reconnaissance helicopters.
Powered by American LM2500 gas turbines, the INS Vikrant can attain nautical speeds of 18 knots.
It will have a crew of 160 officers and 1,400 sailors on board.
India joins the US, Russia, Britain and France in building the aircraft carriers of this size and capabilities.
In his speech after the launch of INS Vikrant, defence minister Antony said, “It is a red-letter day for the entire nation and a proud moment for the country which has achieved self-reliance in the field of warship design and construction. Only a few advanced countries have capability to design and build such aircraft carriers.’’
Enhanced capabilities of the Indian Navy will allow us to maintain “high operational preparedness to thwart any likely misadventure against our national interest,’’ the defence minister said.
The aircraft carrier will go into extensive trials in 2016 and inducted into the Indian Navy only by the end of 2018.
Cochin Shipyard Limited started building the INS Vikrant in 2006. It has been built with specially manufactured steel by the Steel Authority of India.