New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) India is planning to operate at least two aircraft carriers at any given time, once its indigenous programme for such large warships is complete.
This was stated by Indian Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma in an address delivered at the International Institute for Strategic Studies at London Monday.
Verma, who is in Britain on a three-day bilateral visit, informed the gathering that "the indigenous aircraft carrier programme is planned to be a continuing process over the next decade-plus, with the Indian Navy's medium term aim being to have at least two fully operational and combat worthy carriers available at any given time."
The Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) is under construction at the public sector Cochin Shipyard in the southern Indian state of Kerala. The keel laying for the first IAC, christened INS Vikrant and to weigh about 45,000 tonnes, was done in February 2009 and it is likely to join the Indian Navy service by 2016, as per the revised construction schedule.
India also plans to build another, larger IAC that will weigh about 65,000 tonnes and is likely to be called INS Vishal.
It is already operating the ageing INS Viraat, which has completed close to 53 years of naval service having been HMS Hermes in the British Royal Navy before being bought by India in 1987. Viraat, which has already completed 25 years of service in the Indian Navy, is expected to retire after INS Vikrant is inducted.
Moreover, the Russian-origin INS Vikramaditya (erstwhile Russian Navy's Admiral Gorshkov) is undergoing sea trials ahead of its induction into the Indian Navy in December this year.
Expressing pride in India's progress along the road of indigenous shipbuilding, Admiral Verma said the Indian Navy had articulated a perspective plan for development of the force up to 2027, a plan that was "capability-based rather than threat-based".
On the emerging global geopolitical scenario, the Indian Navy chief said, "The global gaze is focusing increasingly on the Asia-Pacific region which underlines the significance of the Indian Ocean in global security affairs."
Painting a picture of an intensely competitive and dynamic Asia, the admiral stressed the need to develop and prepare accordingly.
He drew the attention of those gathered to the possible state of affairs in 2025, saying, "By the year 2025, three of the world's four largest economies will be in Asia. The region is also recognised as the primary loci of ostensible non-state threats in the world. Juxtaposed with these entities are three of the world's four largest Armies, and atleast four declared nuclear weapon states."
Regarding the improving resource allocation to the Indian Navy in India's carefully controlled defence budget, he observed that "there is an increasing realisation that the destiny of our nation is entwined with our maritime destiny."
Verma was speaking on 'Metamorphosis of Matters Maritime: An Indian Perspective'.