According to persons acquainted with the situation, India plans to add an aircraft carrier to its fleet, costing over 400 billion rupees, to offset China’s naval presence in the Indian Ocean region.
The Defense Acquisition Council, India’s topmost defence decision-making body headed by Rajnath Singh, India’s Defense Minister, is expected to approve the acquisition of its second exclusive indigenous carrier on Friday, and according to people with first-hand knowledge of the development who declined to be identified as the discussions are private.
The planned expansion to the Indian Navy’s marine capability will be critical in New Delhi’s quest for more influence in both regional and international waterways as the global power balance shifts and tensions in the Indo-Pacific area rise.
Aircraft carriers, or enormous floating bases, will enable seafaring countries like India to project influence over greater distances and for longer periods of time.
The new carrier is expected to carry at least 28 fighter planes and helicopters and to displace about 45,000 tons of water, which is a typical measure of military size. The Vikrant also has a displacement of 45,000 tons.
Per Bloomberg, the carrier would be outfitted with French-made Rafale fighters, reflecting India’s continuing military modernization and gradual phase-out of older Soviet and Russian-made weapons.
Former vice admiral in India’s navy Shekhar Sinha said New Delhi’s spending will assist in defending the country’s massive economic interests in the region and counter any difficulties from regional adversaries.
According to Sinha, India is simply concerned with defending its economic interests as well as the security of communication water routes. Anyone who declares some form of hostile action against the citizens of this country, including the army, navy, or air force, should be entitled to retaliate.
However, the Chinese also want to keep India in check while they prepare to take on the US Navy. According to Sinha, that seems to be the aim, albeit not stated publicly.
New Delhi is keenly monitoring Beijing’s advances in naval technology. According to a China Power Project research, China’s newest aircraft carrier, the Fujian, might accommodate up to 60 aircraft, including about 40 fighter jets.
The Fujian, China’s second handmade “flat-top” warship, is believed to weigh 80,000 tons. It was planned to compete with the best-in-class carriers of the United States Navy. However, the Chinese Navy’s knowledge still lags many generations behind.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy is now the world’s largest, with “an overall battle force of over 370 vessels and submarines, including over 140 major surface combatants, per the Pentagon’s most recent assessment.
India had 132 battleships, 143 planes, and 130 helicopters as of 2023. Per Deccan Herald, the Indian Navy plans to increase its hull count to 175 ships in the near future.
Following the debut of Vikrant in 2022, the Chinese press minimized India’s navy advances. The Indian carrier was classified as an “incomplete” platform by The Paper, a news site sponsored by a state media organization in Shanghai because it has yet to launch or retrieve any fighter aircraft.
This past May and June, the nation’s navy showed its operational capability when carrier-based fighter planes, including the MiG-29K, effectively took off and landed on Vikrant’s deck both during the day and at night.
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