The much-awaited and long-delayed India’s biggest aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya after being acquired from Russia has finally arrived in the Arabian Sea after a long voyage. The $2.3 billion ship is currently being escorted by the ships of Indian Navy’s western fleet and is expected to reach the Kanwar base next week.
At the base weapons, sensors and MiG-29K fighter jets will integrated and the warship will become fully operational.
The carrier was purchased by India on 20 January 2004 after years of negotiations at a final price of $2.35 billion. The warship will be equipped with, as a part of the deal, 12 single-seat Mikoyan MiG-29K ‘Fulcrum-D’ and four dual-seat MiG-29KUB aircraft (with an option for 14 more aircraft), six Kamov Ka-31 “Helix” reconnaissance and anti-submarine helicopters, torpedo tubes, missile systems, and artillery units.
Indian Navy’s long term objective is to be able to respond to emergent situations far away from main land. After China’s ‘string of pearls’ theory, India needs to develop a grand strategy to counter the Chinese aggression in the Indian Ocean. INS Vikramaditya will have to play a crucial role in achieving this objective. During the three-month sea trials, the ship had demonstrated excellent seaworthiness, speed of 27.9 knots (about 52 km per hour) and manoeuvrability
History of the ship
Originally named Baku, the ship was launched in 1982, and commissioned in December 1987. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the name of the ship was changed to Admiral Gorshkov. In 1994, an explosion in the boiler room forced the ship to be docked for a year for repair. It returned to service in 1995, she was finally withdrawn in 1996 and offered for sale.
The most obvious design difference from the rest of the class is the massive planar array above the bridge. The biggest change to the weapon systems was the replacement of the SA-N-3 ‘Goblet’ and SA-N-4 ‘Gecko’ SAM launchers with four SA-N-9 ‘Gauntlet’ VLS launchers. This allowed room for another two SS-N-12 ‘Sandbox’ launchers. The air wing was the same as the other Kievs, consisting of a squadron of twelve Yak-38 ‘Forger’ V/STOL aircraft (until they were retired in 1992), twelve Ka-27 ‘Helix-A’ ASW/SAR helicopters and two Ka-31 ‘Helix’ AEW helicopters. Flight operations were assisted by the distinctive new Cake Stand TACAN.
The ship was used for trials of the Yak-141 Freestyle supersonic VTOL fighter.
To conclude, induction of INS Vikramaditya will significantly increase the overall effectiveness of the Indian Navy.