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    India Bolsters Maritime Might: Expanding Aircraft Carrier Fleet and Showcasing Naval Power

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    File:Aircraft Carrier INS Vikramaditya (cropped).jpg” by Indian Navy is licensed under CC CC0 1.0

    In a significant move underscoring its ambition to be a preeminent maritime force, India is pushing the boundaries of its naval capabilities. In recent times, the nation has showcased a dual aircraft carrier operation, only paralleled by the United States, signaling its growing prowess within the Indian Ocean and beyond.

    HMS Monmouth with INS Vikramaditya” by Defence Images is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    The Indian Navy, already boasting an impressive naval history, took a monumental stride in expanding its blue-water capabilities. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s announcement that India will not only commission its third aircraft carrier but also plans to build additional ones, outlines a clear trajectory towards a formidable naval future.

    File:Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, former Gorshkov.jpg” by gorbatuy111 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

    The current operational fleet includes the INS Vikramaditya and the newly inducted INS Vikrant. The former, a modified Kiev class carrier purchased from Russia and commissioned in 2013, weighs in at 45,000 tonnes and has been a linchpin in India’s naval strategy.

    File:INS Vikrant circa 1984 carrying a unique complement of Sea Harriers, Sea Hawks, Allouette & Sea King helicopters and Alize ASW.jpg” by Arun Prakash is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

    The INS Vikrant, however, stands as a testament to India’s self-reliance. Named in honor of its historic predecessor, which played a pivotal role in the 1971 war, the Vikrant’s induction marks India’s entry into an elite group of nations capable of designing and constructing aircraft carriers domestically.

    File:INS Vikrant Radars.JPG” by AroundTheGlobe is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking on Vikrant’s commissioning, said, “Vikrant is not just a warship. This is a testament to the hard work, talent, influence, and commitment of India in the 21st century.”

    File:Vikrant Island.JPG” by AshLin is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

    Indeed, Vikrant’s significance cannot be overstated. An ‘engineering marvel’, it represents India’s advancing industrial might, engaging approximately 500 MSMEs, 12,000 employees from ancillary industries, and 2,000 from the Cochin Shipyard Limited.

    Russian Aircraft Corporation MIG-29K ‘Fulcrum’” by aeroman3 is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    This carrier’s capabilities are as impressive as its construction. Boasting a range of 8,000 nautical miles, it can deploy an air wing of 30 aircraft, including MiG-29K fighter jets, Kamov-31, and MH-60R multi-role helicopters.

    FyvxxpOXgAQJg2J” by Indian navy is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

    The ship utilizes the STOBAR (Short Take-Off but Arrested Recovery) method, facilitating efficient aircraft launch and recovery.

    HMS PLYMOUTH” by TimWebb is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    In a demonstration of operational readiness, both INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant undertook “twin carrier operations” in a stunning display of power projection and coordination.

    File:Vikrant Museum Ship.jpg” by Skyring is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

    The significance of this event is highlighted by analysts, such as Nick Childs, senior fellow for naval forces and maritime security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, who recognizes that, “This is not a small achievement and underlines that the Indian Navy is one of very few in the world that operates more than one aircraft carrier.”

    Indian Navy flotilla of Western Fleet escort INS Vikramaditya (R33) and INS Viraat (R22) in the Arabian Sea” by Indian Navy is licensed under CC BY 2.5

    As India marches forward with its naval expansion, considerations of new vessels are on the horizon. The nation is now contemplating its ‘third’ aircraft carrier, tentatively dubbed IAC-II, which will undergo modern modifications and employ newer technologies.

    160411-D-DT527-288” by U.S. Secretary of Defense is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    This project reflects the Navy’s strategy to maintain a robust presence on both the Western and Eastern seaboards, amidst a volatile maritime security landscape across the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

    File:Two aircraft carriers in the closed city of Severomorsk.jpg” by Gorbatuy111 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

    While some may debate the relevance of aircraft carriers in the era of missiles and drones, the recent activities of global powers suggest a renewed interest in such vessels.

    HMS Monmouth with INS Vikramaditya” by Defence Images is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    India’s dual-carrier operation not only demonstrates its ambitions but also its commitment to security and stability in the region, frequently engaging in joint exercises with other navies such as those in the Quad partnership.

    Model of INS ‘Vikramaditya’” by Vitaly V. Kuzmin is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

    It is through these strategic maneuvers and the expansion of its aircraft carrier fleet that India looks to cement its role as a central player in the maritime domain, addressing emerging threats and safeguarding its national interests on the global stage.

    Relevant articles:
    Know All About Aircraft Carriers of India, WION
    Press Information Bureau, Press Information Bureau
    The significance of carrier aviation | Explained, The Hindu
    India demonstrates naval strength with dual aircraft carrier exercise, a feat China has yet to accomplish, CNN

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