Keel laid for India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier (Lead)

February 28th, 2009 - 5:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Kochi, Feb 28 (IANS) India joined a club of select nations Saturday as the keel for the country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier was laid here Saturday. The vessel will be launched in 2011 and is scheduled to be be delivered to the Indian Navy in 2014.
Speaking at the function at the Cochin Shipyard Ltd, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said: “It is a crucial milestone and a moment to cherish in the country’s maritime history. The indigenous aircraft carrier will make the Indian Navy strong and self reliant.”

The aircraft carrier, at 37,500 tonnes displacement, is the largest warship to be constructed in the country. It will be about five times larger than the 6,700 tonne Delhi class of destroyers, the largest and the heaviest warships hitherto constructed in the country.

With this project India has become the fourth nation, after the US, Russia and France, to be capable of designing and constructing full deck carriers. This is not only the first military warship to be built at the Cochin Shipyard but also the largest military vessel to be constructed in any Indian yard.

“The keel laying heralds the coming of age of the Indian Navy not only as a maritime power but as a technological power… It marks the quest for our supremacy at sea,” Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta said.

The keel laying includes lowering of the first block in the dry dock and beginning the construction of the ship. The work is divided into seven phases: design, construction planning, work prior to keel laying, ship erection, launching, final outfitting and sea trials.

“Economic and geo-political developments have reemphasized the need for a self reliant navy,” Mehta added.

The aircraft carrier would be capable of operating a mix of Russian MiG-29K and indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft and Kamov-31 helicopters.

The ship will have a length of 260 m and maximum breadth of 60 m. It will be propelled by two LM2,500 Gas Turbines and will be able to attain speeds in excess of 28 knots.

Production of the carrier commenced in November 2006 and 423 steel blocks of the required 874 have already been fabricated. The major equipment to be installed in the lower decks has been ordered. The ship is being constructed using high strength steel developed by the Defence Research and Development Organiastion and Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL).

“Twenty-two months from today we will be able to launch the carrier into the water as per our contractual obligations to the Indian Navy. Thereafter it will be ready for induction by the middle of the next decade,” chief managing director of CSL, Commodore M. Jitendran, said.

The carrier will be equipped with long-range surface-to-air missile (LR SAM) system with multi-function radar (MFR) and close-in weapon system (CIWS)

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