Vikramaditya to combat Pak, China on high seas
By N C Bipindra - NEW DELHI
Published: 17th Nov 2013 07:38:18 AM
Welcome to the elite club. When Indian Defence Minister A K Antony on Saturday formally inducted INS Vikramaditya, the 44,500-tonne refitted aircraft carrier with the Russian MiG-29K combat jets on board, the whole world sat up and took notice, because it meant India becomes the only nation from Asia to operate a modern naval platform of this size and capability.
Pakistan has never operated one, while China has just refitted the old Ukrainian Varyag, bought as junk in 1998 and rechristened Liaoning last year.
Only other nations globally to operate such potent naval platforms are the US, UK, France and Brazil. With Vikramaditya’s induction, India has added its second such massive warship into the 150-warship fleet.
With the experience of having operated INS Vikrant between 1961 and 1997 and INS Viraat, since 1987, India knows the importance of a combat jet-carrying warship and what it means in enhancing the maritime warfare capability of any naval fleet.
That alone is reason enough for India buying the warship, Admiral Gorshkov, from Russia in 2004 and agreeing to pay $2.33 billion (`11,500 crore) in 2010 for the 80 per cent of the systems on board being replaced with new ones. “An aircraft carrier, carrying potent long range multi-role fighters (MiG-29K), is a platform inherently designed for power projection. In as much as ‘Gorshkov’ was transformed to create ‘Vikramaditya’, Vikramaditya will transform the face of the Indian Naval Fleet and Air Arm,” a senior naval officer said here.
Vikramaditya has boosted India’s power projection, strategic reach and blue water capability. It also propels Indian Navy’s transformation process into a modern force capable of protecting national interest anywhere on the globe, be it the latest maritime hotspot South China Sea in the East or the Gulf of Aden in the West.
When the under construction indigenous aircraft carrier, christened Vikrant, joins the fleet in 2018, Indian Navy would be capable of deploying two Carrier Battle Groups, the most feared warships flotilla with an aircraft carrier as its main component, on both the eastern and western seaboards at any given time. Vikramaditya stretches as much as three football fields and is literally a ‘floating city’ with power generation and water purification facilities of its own. Standing 22 storey tall, the sheer sight of the mega structure of steel can instill fear in the hostiles, what with its new generation maritime combat planes and weapons with capability to carry warheads to enemy shores.
The warship will sail out of Sevmash later this month, stocked with nearly a lakh of eggs, 20,000 litres of milk and 16 tonnes of rice for the month-long first voyage it will undertake to reach India’s western coast. Karwar naval base in Karnataka coast will be the home base of INS Vikramaditya.
An extensive revamp of sensors including fitm ent of Long range Air Surveillance Radars, Advanced Electronic Warfare Suite makes the ship capable of maintaining a surveillance bubble of over 500 km around it.