Marking a red-letter day in the Indian Navy's pursuit of indigenisation, its first home-built aircraft carrier, built at Cochin Shipyard, commenced its maiden sea trials in Kochi on Wednesday.
The vessel, termed the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC), will be called the INS Vikrant once it is commissioned into service. It will be the second ship to bear that name; the first Vikrant was the first aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy that served in the 1971 Bangladesh war and was decommissioned in 1997.
Announcing the sea trials, the Indian Navy tweeted, "Proud & historic day for India as the reincarnated #Vikrant sails for her maiden sea trials today, in the 50th year of her illustrious predecessor’s key role in victory in the #1971war Largest & most complex warship ever to be designed & built in India."
The Vikrant is expected to be commissioned by 2022. The construction of the Vikrant began with cutting of steel for the project in 2006, though it encountered considerable delays.
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The Vikrant will be displace over 40,000 tonnes. It is expected to carry MiG-29K fighters and a combination of helicopters including the Ka-31 for airborne early warning, MH-60R for anti-submarine warfare and HAL Dhruv for general-purpose duties such as search and rescue.
While the Vikrant will use the same 'ski-jump' configuration as the INS Vikramaditya to launch fighter aircraft, the former is considerably more advanced than the Russian-built ship. The Vikrant features newer engines, radars and other electronics, when compared with the Russian-built Vikramaditya.