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Why Indian Navy needs INS Vishal the 3rd Aircraft Carrier to counter China? Defence Current Affairs

Why Indian Navy needs INS Vishal the 3rd Aircraft Carrier to counter China? Defence Current Affairs


  • GS 3 || Security || Tackling Security Threats || Army, Navy &Airforce

Why in news?

The IAC-1, tomorrow’s INS Vikrant, sailed out to sea for the first time. The indigenous aircraft carrier is a stellar achievement of defence engineering.

Present context:

The Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) 1, which will be called INS Vikrant once it enters service with the Indian Navy about a year from now, started sea trials one of the last phases of trials.

Because it operates in and from international seas, maritime power, particularly the Carrier Group, is the most formidable yet least invasive of military power.

China Building a Mammoth Carrier:

  • Western experts have dubbed this, China’s second domestically produced aircraft, “Type 003.” With a catapult technology now exclusively utilized by the US and France, it is expected to be the world’s largest non-American carrier for many years. China would be able to launch planes with more fuel and armaments, not only fighter jets, as a result of this.
  • The French nuclear-powered warship “Charles de Gaulle” and Britain’s new flagship “Queen Elizabeth” participated in three days of combined drills dubbed “Gallic Strike.” Queen Elizabeth will then go to the Indian and Pacific Oceans as a naval showcase of “global Britain.”
  • France is also preparing for the successor to Charles de Gaulle, who is set to take office in 2038 and has been characterized as “75,000 tonnes of diplomacy” and “an instrument of force and sovereignty” by Florence Parly, France’s defense minister.
  • Given this, can India, which has taken on the role of “net security provider” as a result of its growing geopolitical interests and position in the Indo-Pacific, promote an anti-carrier environment? “NO,” say serving and former navy members. They are convinced that Modi would not let them down, despite China’s rapid construction of aircraft carriers.

History of India’s Aircraft Carriers:

  • India has only a single carrier, INS Vikramaditya, in active service, with another, INS Vikrant, scheduled to be commissioned in late 2018.
  • The table below captures the key features of these two vessels, both of which are classified as “small-deck” carriers by virtue of their size and aircraft complement.
  • During operations, each carrier and its several destroyer and frigate consorts constitute a CBG, and one or two such entities make up a carrier task force (CTF).
  • INS Vikramaditya& INS Vikrant small-deck flattops such as Vikrant and Vikramaditya, are large, multi-billion dollar platforms, and thus protecting them would be of utmost importance to commanders.
  • INS Vikrant and Vikramaditya are both in the forty-thousand-ton displacement category. Furthermore, Vikrant is slated to cost over U.S.$2.2 billion, while the cost of refitting Vikramaditya, currently the Indian navy’s flagship, is about U.S.$2.9 billion.
  • While the Indian carrier would be vulnerable to the aforementioned threats while enforcing a blockade of Pakistan, at least it would be free to exploit its mobility to evade detection and attack on the high seas.
  • In contrast, operations against land targets would render Indian carriers even more exposed to attack.
  • First, the relatively short legs of carrier-based aircraft mean that the carrier would have to operate closer to the enemy coastline, making it more vulnerable to A2/AD threats.

Why India Needs a Third Carrier?

  • Controlling and securing maritime space: Carriers are an important part of maritime control. Sea control is the primary idea upon which the Indian Navy is built, according to India’s maritime doctrine. Controlling and securing maritime space for any period of time is difficult without a standoff capability, which the Carrier Group provides (Ship along with all its assets).
  • Deterrence, support of amphibious operations, land-attack missions, wide-area domain awareness, command and control of big forces, and personnel evacuation are some of the functional variety that the Carrier Group may bring to bear.
  • Maintain long-term offensive presence and power: The Carrier Group has the ability to maintain long-term offensive presence and power projection situations. It can restrict unfettered access to its bases throughout the adversary’s preparation and build-up phase.
  • The Carrier Group offers the Commander with operational agility, firepower, and flexibility that no other marine force can match.

What is the need for new carriers?

  • Project military might: A country’s capacity to project military might away from its coasts is heavily reliant on aircraft carriers, which are primarily employed for this purpose.
  • Security objectives: To satisfy its total maritime security objectives, the Indian Navy has established a minimum necessary requirement of two operable aircraft carriers.
  • Maritime Capability Perspective Plan: However, the Navy’s Maritime Capability Perspective Plan envisions a fleet of three aircraft carriers, with the capacity to operate two Carrier Battle Groups (CBGs) at any given time.
  • CBGs are huge task formations based on a carrier that offer unrivaled flexibility, reach, and endurance.
  • Projecting strength: These are essential assets for projecting strength and providing credible deterrence through their visibility.
  • China as a focus:
    • China is also making a concerted attempt to acquire a presence in the Indian Ocean region.
    • China presently has two airlines and expects to have four by 2028, with a goal of ten by 2050.
    • For the Chinese Navy, which intends expeditions deep into the Indian Ocean Region by 2020, this would be a quantum leap.
  • India’s carrier-based aircraft can only provide limited air defense to the fleet when operating close to the shore, with a restricted range and time delays.
  • As a result, new aircraft carriers are needed to meet the demands of carrier-aircraft in a changing geopolitical landscape.

What are the plans regarding the design of IAC-2?

  • CATOBAR (Catapult Assisted Take-Off but Arrested Recovery) is a launch and recovery method for aircraft from an aircraft carrier’s deck.
  • Until today, steam, particularly from a nuclear power plant, was thought to be the best propulsion for a ship of this size.
  • However, the United States is working on the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), which uses a catapult with a linear induction motor instead of a steam piston to launch carrier-based aircraft.
  • IAC-2 intends to use the CATOBAR-EMALS launch system since it is capable of flying aircraft with larger payloads and a displacement of around 65,000 tonnes, and it must be constructed accordingly.

Way forward:

  • An aircraft carrier is a dynamic capability that can be deployed across four decades, making it one of the most cost-effective ways to spend money on such a purchase.
  • Given the time it will take to build IAC-2 and the speed and determination with which the Chinese navy is progressing, the leadership must decide as soon as possible to build and operate a third aircraft carrier.

Mains oriented question:

It will need to be supplemented by a tighter relationship between the government and domestic manufacturers. To advance up the value chain of defense industry, the government must make a long-term commitment. Comment. (250 words)