IAC model on display at Aero India 2011. The model was shown with Tejas Mk 1 Naval on board. Photo Copyright © Vijainder K Thakur
India is constructing a 40,000 ton aircraft carrier (Air Defense Ship), capable of hosting 30 aircraft, at Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) under the Rs 3,260 crore Project 71. The ship will be commissioned into the Indian Navy as INS Vikrant.
(According to an estimate made in November 2012, the total cost of the aircraft carrier alone - without its aircraft component - is likely to be between Rs. 14,000-to Rs. 18,000 crore.)
The ship would be 260m long ship with a max breadth of 50m. It's been designed to carry 12 MiG-29Ks, eight Tejas Light Combat Aircraft and 10 anti-submarine and reconnaissance helicopters on its 2.5-acre flight deck and hangars.
IAC will have two takeoff runways and a landing strip with 3 arrester wires.
It will support STOBAR (Short Take Off But Arrested Recovery) operations with a ski jump for take off like INS Vikramaditya, instead of a steam catapult.
The carrier is designed with a very high degree of automation for machinery operation, ship navigation and survival. It will carry a complement of 160 officers and 1,400 sailor.
The ship will be propelled by two shafts, each coupled to two LM2500 Gas Turbines developing a total power of 80 MW, sufficient to attain speeds in excess of 28 knots.
It will have an endurance of around 7,500 nautical miles at 18 knots.
The ship was designed by the Directorate of Naval Design (DND) which has an experience of over 40 years in successfully designing 17 different classes of warships, to which around 90 ships have already been built within the country.
DND is the only Govt. organisation in the world today undertaking indigenous design of warships.
Delhi class destroyers are the biggest warships built so far to indigenous design. These ships are operating successfully over last 10 years and have demonstrated their design superiority when INS Delhi withstood extremely adverse weather conditions and high sea states while encountering typhoons during the ship's passage in the South China sea in 1995.
DND designed 70% of the ship, starting in 2001-02. It used an Italian company, Fincantieri, as design consultants for integrating the propulsion system, while a Russian firm, NDB, is contributing aviation technology.
Fincantieri delivered the 30,000 ton aircraft carrier Cavour to the Italian Navy in 2008, which is powered by four General Electric LM2500 gas turbines generating a total of 80 MW of power. The same engines will power INS Vikrant, which will have have two shafts, each coupled to two LM2500 gas turbines.
The ship construction is planned in two phases. The first phase covers work upto first launch with the ship weighing 18,000 tons
The second phase would cover all balance work till delivery of the ship to the Navy in end 2016 (Originally scheduled December 2014).
On May 11, 2013, Defense Minister AK Antony told the press that the ship would be launched on August 12, 2013.
"INS Vikramaditya is going to be a reality, as promised the ship would be delivered before the end of this year," Antony told reporters after the commissioning of fighter aircraft MiG29K into Navy at INS Hansa in Goa.
"While on one side Vikramaditya is coming this year, on August 12 we are going to launch indigenous aircraft carrier at Cochin," he said, without elaborating further.
The ship is currently in dry dock, being fitted with two remade gearboxes that were earlier damaged in an accident; as a result the ship was floated prematurely to make way for commercial shipbuilding work.
According to The Hindu, the ship currently weighs 17,500 tons and will be relaunched in June complete with propulsion, shafting and other equipment in self-propelled mode.
The ship will weigh 18,000 tons at its second launch on completion of Phase 1 of construction.
On November 20, 2012, NDTV reported that the Defense Ministry was poised to ask the Union Cabinet to sanction an additional Rs. 2,000 crore to meet the cost overrun for completing the first phase of Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC).
Defense Minister AK Antony reviewed the progress of the construction of the ship on November 20 and asked Cochin ship yard to come with a "firm date of delivery."
"We cannot go on hearing excuses. Everybody has to be accountable for the warship which is a national project and responsibilities in case of further slippages will have to be fixed," he said.
Antony also directed Defense Secretary Shashikant Sharma to constantly monitor the progress of the construction.
The ship currently weighs 14,000 tons, against the 18,000 tons that it is to weigh at launch marking the completion of Phase 1.
The first of the two remade gear boxes have reached Kochi a few days ago.
A contract for the construction of the IAC till it "launch" was signed in 2002-03 at a cost of Rs 3,261.
A separate contract, yet to be signed, will cover the construction of the ship after launch. [via TOI]
Construction started in November 2006 but stalled due to paucity of steel. It picked up pace after Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL) and the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) developed carrier-grade steel indigenously.
The keel of the ship was officially laid on February 28, 2009, by Defense Minister AK Antony in the presence of Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Chief of the Naval Staff.
Construction once again stalled because of shortcomings in the quality gearbox developed by Gujrat based Elecon Engineering Company Limited.
Elecon had earlier supplied CODOG marine gear boxes for the Navy's Shivalik-class stealth frigates, but faltered with their initial attempts to make the carrier's huge main gearboxes. They eventually overcame the problem with the help of a German firm.
“The gear box is ready and undergoing trials, at last. The underwater package is all lined up but the rest of the equipment has to be identified and tested,” a naval source told The Hindu.
On August 2, 2011, Defense Minister AK Antony told the Lok Sabha in a written reply to questions:
"Regarding the Air Defence Ship being constructed at CSL, 75 percent of hull work has been completed and is expected to be launched in December 2011, after which further works will be undertaken prior to commissioning."
He said the augmentation of infrastructure at CSL was in progress and Indian-made hull quality steel was now available that will reduce the country's dependence on foreign sources.
"With the infrastructure and experience, indigenous aircraft carrier-sized ships can be built at CSL. Additionally, Indian-manufactures warship quality steel is now available, which will reduce dependence on foreign countries," he said.
On November 28, 2011, it was reported that IAC launch has been pushed back from December 2011 to the first quarter of 2012.
During a press conference in New Delhi on December 2, 2011, the Navy Chief said there were problems with some key equipment that were to be fitted into the IAC.
The project suffered several setbacks starting with an accident in the generators. There was a problem in the gear box as also a problem with the alignment of the engine shaft. The Navy wants to minimize acoustic signature of the warship before launching it.
Attempts are being made to make up for the lost time by doing structural work at the shipyard. [via Hindu]
On December 29, 2011, the ship was prematurely floated to clear the dry dock in which it is being constructed for use by a commercial ship.
A senior naval functionary then told The Hindu, "The carrier has taken on about 14,000 tonnes. She would now undergo interior outfitting, including the laying of pipes before being dry-docked again in the latter half of next year for integration of the propulsion gear-box, generators and the like."
The ship was originally planned to be 'launched' with a weight of around 25,000 tonnes by October 2010.
On August 27, 2012, Minister of Defense Shri AK Antony told the parliament that the ship is now expected to be launched in 2013 and delivered in 2018.
"The complexity of the project and this being the first ship of its kind being built in India has led to timelines being extended. AS per the Phase-I Contract concluded with M/s. Cochin Shipyard Limited, Kochi, the first launch of the ship was envisaged in October, 2010. However, due to delays in receipt of steel plates and pre-launch equipment like diesel alternators and gearboxes, the launch of the ship is now expected in 2013. Delivery of the ship is presently envisaged in 2018," Antony said.
On August 7, 2012, the CNS, Admiral Nirmal Verma said during his final press conference that the ship is now scheduled to be inducted into the IN in 2017.
The project suffered a "set back" because of delays in the delivery of the gear box and a road accident in which the truck carrying the ships generator turned turtle. The generator had to be sent back for checks.
In July 2012, a defense ministry source told the TOI that the IAC's induction into the Navy won't happen before 2017, three years behind the current schedule.
"The fact is IAC will not be ready anytime before 2017. In a recent high-level meeting, the Cochin Shipyard was sharply pulled up for this huge delay,'' said the source.
The carrier will field long-range surface-to-air missile (LR SAM) systems with a multi-function radar, a close-in weapon system, the most modern C/D band early air-warning radar and the V/UHF tactical air-navigational and direction finding systems.
On January 1, 2012, the Indian Express reported that Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is likely to get a major contract valued at Rs 700 crore to equip the ship with LR SAM missiles.
It will have jamming capabilities over the expected electromagnetic (EM) environment, along with carrier control approach radars to aid air operations. Integration of all weapon systems onboard will be through an indigenous combat management system (CMS).
The ship’s integration with the Navy’s network-centric operations will provide for force multiplication.
The IAC will feature three arrester cables supplied by Marine Engineering Research Institute and made by Proletarsky Zavod plant which produces all Russian arresters and arresting hooks.
The institute has reportedly delivered two arresters already and took part in construction of naval aviation training center built on Goa, India.
Since the IAC will host MiG-29K and LCA Naval it needs an arrester cable that can work with both the aircraft that have radically different weights. The Russian suppliers were able to resolve the issue successfully. [via Indian Express]
The Navy plans to equip IAC-1 with a mix of MiG-29K / LCA Naval Variant currently under development at ADA.
However, in view of the slow progress of the LCA project, the service is actively looking at alternatives.
It has ssued an RFI (request for information) to several global aviation majors, including American Boeing, French Dassault and Russian MiG companies, for ‘an alternate deck-based aircraft’ in November, 2009.
‘‘Information is being sought to acquire over 40 fighters for the 40,000-tonne IAC-1 (indigenous aircraft carrier), being built at the Cochin shipyard and expected to roll out by 2014-2015 now, and IAC-2, which will follow later,’’ a source told TOI.
IAC model on display at Aero India 2011. The ski jump take off is more clearly visible in this photo. Photo Copyright © Vijainder K Thakur
In June 2012 Flight magazine, quoting sources, reported that the Indian Navy was considering the use of Rafale M (Naval variant) on the IAC. The Rafale M is almost the same size as the MiG-29K, but packs a much greater punch.
With delays and doubts continuing to plague the LCA Navy program, the Navy sees the Rafale M as the only effective counter to J-15 (Su-33 rip off) that China is likely to deploy on its aircraft carrier Shi Lang.
Since the IAF will be acquiring the Rafale in large numbers, support and maintenance of the Rafale M will pose little problem.
Work on IAC-2 is expected to start before the first one is delivered to the Navy.
The IAC-2 could undergo some design changes, Naval Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma indicated while speaking to the press ahead Navy Day on December 4, 2009.
"We are re-looking at the design. It won't be a copy of what we have today."
He said a concept study by the Directorate of Naval Design is currently underway 'for more capable carrier-borne aircraft' for the IAC-2.
The Navy is leaning towards a 50,000 tons carrier capable of launching heavier aircraft using a steam catapult, rather than the ski-jump on the Gorshkov / Vikramaditya.
On April 21, 2012 Vice-Admiral Ganesh Mahadevan, Chief of Materials (COM) indicated to the Indian Express that the Navy wants IAC-2 to be able to host surveillance aircraft also, besides its fighter and helicopter complement.
The Navy has earlier indicated it prefers the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (Emals) on its new aircraft carriers.
The Indian Express reported on August 6, 2010 that IAC-2 would have a displacement of 65,000 tons and operate Su-33, MiG-35 and LCA. The shipyard where it would be constructed has yet to be finalized.
A source told the newspaper, "Taking a lesson from delays faced in the construction of the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant, we have already begun working on the design of the next one with an added tonnage of 25,000 tonnes.”
"The aircraft carrier is likely to have a catapult to launch fighter jets, mainly used in the US platform. So far the Indian Navy has operated ski-jump assisted launch of fighters,” sources added. The floating flying deck would also be capable of operating airborne early warning systems and mid-air refueller aircraft.
The cost of construction is estimated to be $2 billion, against the $2.34 billion spend on refurbishing INS Vikramaditya.