Indigenous Vikrant launched

India on Monday “launched” its first-ever indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant at Kochi, making the country only the sixth in the world having the capability to design and build an aircraft carrier. The Vikrant is expected to be inducted into the Indian Navy by 2018. The term “launching” refers to lowering the vessel into the water. The 37,500 tonne 262-metre-long carrier was pulled from the dry docks into the waters of the Ernakulam channel leading to the Arabian Sea at about noon on Monday, even as people in Kochi lined the bridges of the city to watch the grand spectacle. As per custom, amid the chanting of hymns from the Atharva Veda, the massive aircraft carrier was named the Vikrant — after India’s first aircraft carrier that was de-commissioned in 1997 — at a function on Monday by defence minister A.K. Antony’s wife Elizabeth. The event was therefore hailed as the rebirth of the Vikrant carrier, a Sanskrit word that means “courageous” and “victorious”. The carrier has been built at the Cochin Shipyard.
The launching comes just days after another naval landmark when the nuclear reactor of India’s first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant was activated and attained criticality. India is moving quickly to strengthen its Navy. Defence minister Antony also announced that a proposal to acquire six conventional submarines — which are expected to have the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) technology — is expected to be placed before the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) shortly. India is also expected to take a decision soon on building a second indigenous aircraft carrier. India currently operates only one aircraft carrier — the INS Virat — which is expected to be de-commissioned after about five years. India expects to induct the Russian-origin Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier — named the INS Vikramaditya — by the end of 2013. The Vikrant will help the country tackle China’s increasing naval capabilities and footprints in the Indian Ocean region. India’s plan is to have an aircraft carrier each on its western and eastern seaboards. The aircraft carrier will be part of the “carrier battle group” concept wherein the aircraft carrier — carrying at least 20 combat aircraft each besides a few helicopters — will be accompanied by other warships.

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