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India Needs Four, Not Three Aircraft Carriers: Report

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India Needs Four, Not Three Aircraft Carriers: Report


According to a Deccan Herald opinion piece, India should have four aircraft carrier battle groups (CBGs) instead of three. This would allow the Andaman naval base and peninsular flanks to be flagged without disrupting fleet activities. 

Giving the go-ahead for another indigenous aircraft carrier was on the cards for the Ministry of Defence even before INS Vikrant completed sea trials.

The Indian Navy’s 15-year plan includes four fleet carriers and two light fleet carriers. The plan calls for two of the four fleet carriers to be acquired, and the two light fleet carriers to be given up. 

India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, was commissioned on September 2, 2022. The Navy is currently working on a repeat order for another Vikrant class carrier.

As of October 2023, there are 21 aircraft carriers operated by 14 different navies. The United States has the most with 11, followed by China with 3. India, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Japan each have 2. 

India’s decision to build another indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) is not surprising. The Defence Acquisition Council, the highest decision-making body on issues related to policy and capital procurement, is expected to give the final clearance for the carrier soon. The Indian Navy wants to acquire another aircraft carrier along the lines of the first IAC, INS Vikrant (named after India’s first carrier which was decommissioned in 1997).

The new vessel will also be built at the Cochin Shipyard that built INS Vikrant which is now based at Visakhapatnam, on the eastern coast. Besides the 45,000-tonne Vikrant, the Indian Navy’s carrier fleet comprises the 44,570-tonne INS Vikramaditya — a modified Kiev-class carrier, Admiral Gorshkov, bought from Russia — which operates from its base on the western seaboard.

Giving the go-ahead for another IAC was on the cards for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) even before INS Vikrant completed her sea trials. It stood to reason that a repeat order of the first IAC would not involve drastic changes in construction time, cost and indigenization of sea-borne aviation assets for the new ship which could have cutting edge capabilities at a minimal cost. With the experience of building Vikrant, the Cochin Shipyard is believed to be capable of building another IAC in less than a decade. This was noted by the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar during the Aero India 2023 at Bengaluru earlier this year. “Initially we will go for the repeat order with improved capabilities,” he said. “And in the meantime, we will go for a study of larger carriers.” However, defence sources suggest that the navy will not insist on a carrier of around 65,000 tonnes as was the original plan and instead settle for a ship closer in size to INS Vikrant.

The addition of a third carrier will bolster the Indian Navy’s capability to protect India’s 7,500-kilometre coastline and operate hundreds of kilometres away from its shores on the high seas, making it truly a ‘blue water’ navy. Considering that more than 90 per cent of India’s trade by volume is seaborne, the Indian Navy needs to assert itself in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) where India’s strategic interests depend on several countries dotting the shipping lanes — be it the straits of Malacca, Hormuz, Bab-el-Mandeb, or the South China Sea. For this, India has no alternative but to beef up the Indian Navy with more warships.

India’s maritime ambitions are premised on a balanced fleet of surface ships, submarines, and an independent air arm. This includes, besides at least three aircraft carriers, a couple of dozen conventional and nuclear-powered submarines, and ship-borne aerial assets like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to support the fleet. The Indian Navy’s push for its third carrier, therefore, could not be happening sooner. That it is to be built at a domestic shipyard underscores India’s credentials as one of the few countries in the world with the capability to design and build aircraft carriers.

“The doctrinal and strategic significance of aircraft carriers to any major naval force cannot be overstated. The absence of an aircraft carrier with its range and depth of combat capabilities could potentially force a fleet commander to alter battle plans into a defensive mode. Strategically, albeit nuclear-powered submarines with long-range ballistic nuclear missiles are indispensable for retaliatory deterrence, it is primarily aircraft carriers that are used for power projection. The latest example of this is the deployment of the super carrier, USS Gerald R Ford, in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea to help Israel. No wonder the late former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, famously quipped: “An aircraft carrier is 100,000 tons of diplomacy.”

The Indian Navy needs at least two operational carriers at any given time, while a third is docked for routine maintenance. This allows two carrier battle groups (CBGs), comprising multirole destroyers, frigates, anti-submarine vessels, and submarines, to guard India’s eastern and western seaboards while a third carrier is docked.

Although the Indian Navy’s Maritime Capabilities Perspective Plan 2022 envisions three aircraft carriers, a three-carrier force structure with a fighter aircraft strength of 150 aircraft was proposed by the MoD a quarter century ago. That it remained on paper had a lot to do with bureaucrats arguing that naval acquisitions tend to take more time than buying equipment for the Indian Army or the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The IAF too is guilty of trying to trip the three-carrier concept, as air chiefs claimed that they could provide enough air support to the CBGs from shore-based airfields. Never mind if the limited range of fighter aircraft would be of no use to a CBG operating far away from the coast.

India’s defence planners should ideally look at not three, but four CBGs so that the peninsular flanks as well as the Andaman naval base could be flagged without disrupting fleet activities. This is imperative given the expansionist plans of the People’s Liberation Army Navy of China in the IOR that include the construction of some 20 bases.

So, the sooner India’s carrier fleet is bolstered, the sooner the Indian Navy will be able to sail towards its goal of having a 200-warship fleet with integrated technology, concepts, and systems in the next 10 years.”





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INS Arihant’s Nuke-Capable K-4 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile ‘Ready To Roll’

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INS Arihant’s Nuke-Capable K-4 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile ‘Ready To Roll’


NEW DELHI: India tested its nuclear capable K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), designed to have a strike range of 3,500 km, for the second time in six days on Friday. The missile test, as the one conducted on January 19, was undertaken from an undersea platform in the shape of a submersible pontoon off the coast of Andhra Pradesh according to a report by Rajat Pandit of TOI.

The solid-fuelled K-4 missile is being developed by DRDO to arm the country’s nuclear-powered submarines in the shape of INS Arihant and its under-development sister vessels. INS Arihant, which became fully operational in November 2018 to complete India’s nuclear triad, is currently armed with the much shorter K-15 missiles with a 750 km range.

“The K-4 is now virtually ready for its serial production to kick-off. The two tests have demonstrated its capability to emerge straight from underwater and undertake its parabolic trajectory,” said a source.

India has the land-based Agni missiles, with the over 5,000-km Agni-V inter-continental ballistic missile now in the process of being inducted, and fighter jets jury-rigged to deliver nuclear weapons. But INS Arihant gives the country’s deterrence posture much more credibility because nuclear-powered submarines armed with nuclear-tipped missiles are considered the most secure, survivable and potent platforms for retaliatory strikes.

Once the K-4 missiles are inducted, they will help India narrow the gap with countries like the US, Russia and China, which have over 5,000-km range SLBMs. The K-4 missiles are to be followed by the K-5 and K-6 missiles in the 5,000-6,000 km range class.

The 6,000-ton INS Arihant, which is propelled by an 83 MW pressurised light-water reactor at its core, in turn, is to be followed by INS Arighat, which was launched in 2017. The next generation of nuclear submarines, currently called S-4 and S-4*, will be much larger in size.





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After Upgradation, Sukhoi Su-30MKI Indigenisation To Reach 78%

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After Upgradation, Sukhoi Su-30MKI Indigenisation To Reach 78%


India has received clearance to upgrade 84 Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets, which will result in 78% indigenization after the upgrade

In a significant step towards bolstering its military might with indigenously developed technology, India is poised to witness its Russian-origin Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets evolve into a domestic platform. Speaking at a recent lecture.

The upgrade program is being led by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in partnership with the Indian Air Force and other partners. The upgrade is expected to cost US$7.5 billion.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the upgrade. The upgrade is part of India’s efforts to improve the capabilities of its primary fighter aircraft, it refers to as the “Super Sukhoi”.

This initiative is a part of a larger effort by the Indian Air Force to modernize its ageing fleet. Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari asserted the critical role of an offensive air force as demonstrated in current global conflicts and emphasized India’s move towards an indigenized arsenal. To this end, the IAF has been proactive, from upgrading its Mirage 2000 to enhancing its MiG-29 fleet.

In summary, the IAF’s commitment to updating their combat forces with the latest technology, including shifting to fifth-generation fighter jets, ensures operational preparedness and a strong deterrence capability. The gradual indigenization of its air fleet marks a pivotal shift in India’s defence landscape, reducing dependency on foreign imports and fostering technological sovereignty.





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Akash Weapon System Exports For The Armenian Armed Forces Gathers Pace

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Akash Weapon System Exports For The Armenian Armed Forces Gathers Pace


According to unconfirmed reports, Armenia is a top contender for an export order for Akash SAM system manufactured by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).

While there is no official confirmation because of the sensitivities involved, documents suggest that the order for the same has already been placed the report further added.
There are nine countries, in turn, which have shown interest in the indigenously-developed Akash missile systems, which can intercept hostile aircraft, helicopters, drones and subsonic cruise missiles at a range of 25-km. They are Kenya, Philippines, Indonesia, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Vietnam and Algeria reported TOI.

The Akash export version will also be slightly different from the one inducted by the armed forces. The 100-km range air-to-air Astra missiles, now entering production after successful trials from Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, also have “good export potential”, said sources.

Akash is a “tried, tested and successfully inducted systems”. Indian armed forces have ordered Akash systems worth Rs 24,000 crore over the years, and MoD inked a contract in Mar 2023 of over Rs 9,100 crores for improved Akash Weapon System

BDL is a government enterprise under the Ministry of Defence that was established in 1970. BDL manufactures surface-to-air missiles and delivers them to the Indian Army. BDL also offers its products for export.

Akash Weapon System

The AWS is a Short Range Surface to Air Missile (SRSAM) Air Defence System, indigenously designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). In order to meet aerial threats, two additional Regiments of AWS with Upgradation are being procured for Indian Army for the Northern borders. Improved AWS has Seeker Technology, Reduced Foot Print, 360° Engagement Capability and improved environmental parameters.

The project will give a boost to the Indian missile manufacturing industry in particular and the indigenous defence manufacturing ecosystem as a whole. The project has overall indigenous content of 82% which will be increased to 93% by 2026-27.

The induction of the improved AWS into the Indian Army will increase India’s self-reliance in Short Range Missile capability. This project will play a role in boosting the overall economy by avoiding outgo of precious foreign exchange to other countries, increasing employment avenues in India and encouraging Indian MSMEs through components manufacturing. Around 60% of the project cost will be awarded to the private industry, including MSMEs, in maintaining the supply chain of the weapon system, thereby creating large scale of direct and indirect employment.





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