INS Vishal-India's Second Homemade Aircraft Carrier
India has started work on the second Aircraft Carrier to be called as Vishal (name doing the rounds on web). Defence sources have confirmed that the project has now moved to the design stage, which is being undertaken by the Navy’s Naval Design Bureau. As per preliminary blue-print, it would have displacement of massive 65,000 tons i.e. 25,000 tons heavier than the first Aircraft Carrier, INS Vikrant II.
Vishal will be operating bigger fighter aircraft comparable to Sukhoi 33, it would also be featuring steam catapults, and will carry airborne early-warning (AEW) aircraft. Vishal would also carry the naval versions of the Light Combat Aircraft, which is in development.
India will need at least three aircraft carriers to protect its vast coastline which touches - Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, and Indian Ocean. The Vishal demands a mighty cost of about 1.5 billion USD , according to Defence Ministry sources, where as INS Vikrant II is being built at a cost of 750 million USD. Vikrant, which is delayed by two years, is now expected to be commissioned in Indian Navy by 2017.
|INS Vikrant II, under construction at Cochin|
By 2018, Indian Navy would be able to project power with three carrier battle groups centered around - INS Viraat (to be decommissioned only after 2020, due to extensive upgrades), INS VIkramaditya (to be commissioned by Dec 2012), and INS Vikrant II (expected commissioning date as year 2017).
If there are no massive delays and feet dragging on strategic decisions, then it might be INS Vishal which would replace INS Viraat in the year 2020.