INS Vikramaditya will be a game changer
After prolonged delays, finally the super aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (erstwhile Admiral Gorshkov) has set sail from Russia to be commissioned in the Indian Navy. Indeed, this is going to be a historic moment for Indian Navy which till now has only one aircraft carrier – INS Viraat – which is also reaching the end of its useful service. INS Vikramaditya, which weighs 40,000 tonnes to become the biggest and heaviest ship of the Indian Navy is expected to be a game changer.
The aircraft carrier is expected to patrol the Indian Ocean early next year and it has the capacity to carry 24 MiG-29 fighter jets and 10 helicopters at a time and can sail nearly 1,300 kilometres a day. India, thus, joins a select group of nations and the only one in the Indian Ocean region to operate two aircraft carriers at the same time. A third aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, an indigenous one, is under construction in Kochi and is expected to be commissioned in 2018-19.
With the Indian Ocean region becoming highly militarised zone, the presence of two aircraft carriers on both the eastern and western seaboards will certainly enhance safety and security for India. This point did come up in an exclusive interview we had with the Ambassador of Spain in India, Gustavo de Aristegui who pointed out how India and Spain were maritime nations. Pointing out how India had a complicated neighbourhood, he has reiterated Spain’s interest in partnering with India in many spheres, particularly defence. Spain has thwarted terror threats, organised crime, illegal trafficking etc and according to the Ambassador the illegal intrusions from sea which at one point had peaked to 2,50,000 intrusions had now come down to a dozen, thanks to its coastal defence systems. India and Spain have a lot to gain from each other.
Away from the coastline, we come to a contentious point – the line of control and Pakistan continues to breach it. In his frank and forthright column, Lt General (Retd) P.C. Katoch has dwelt on how Pakistan has upped its ante against India and Afghanistan to divert attention from its terror-making factories. He has referred to the recent video clips which show terrorists waiting to infiltrate into India and disturb internal security.
Meanwhile, it is good news that finally the battle management system (BMS) is reaching some point with the issual of expression of interest. The General mentions how the overall requirement is going to be colossal, likely to jump from initial estimates of ` 23,000 crore to nearly ` 80,000 crore as it is going to be fielded pan Army at the battalion/regiment level. This would entail partnerships with foreign firms for advanced technologies.
Talking about partnerships, there is yet another one which is seeing fruition—the Indo-French missile Maitri—a short-range surface-to-air missile, all ready for launch and enhancing bilateral programme with India’s DRDO and French MBDA. The way forward for India indeed is quick and solid indigenisation, and at the same time partnering nations with advanced technologies. We need to have a judicious mix.
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