The India Navy is looking to acquire third aircraft carrier along with 57 foreign aircraft for the warship, amid growing Chinese threat, which will reportedly cost the government about US$25 billion (INR 1.6 lakh cr).
“The Navy is planning to field its Rs 70,000 crore proposal before the defence ministry in near future which will cost around Rs 1.6 lakh crore at the approval stage itself along with the fighter plane component and the actual costs will go higher further as the programme moves ahead,” government sources told Mail Today.
The Navy has plans of buying 57 twin-engine fighter planes for the third aircraft carrier for which American F-18 and French Dassault Rafale are in the race.
“If one goes by the cost of the 36 Rafales acquired for the Air Force, the 57 planes are not going to cost us less than Rs 90,000-95,000 crore,” the sources said.
However, the source said the Indian defense ministry is not that keen in green-lighting the proposal, due to the high costs involved in it and it would force the government to change its acquisition plans for the coming years compelling it to wait list a number of other urgently required weapon systems of the Army and the Air Force.
The cost of equipment for the aircraft carrier take-off patented by an American private sector firm will also be a major factor in determining the final cost of the carrier for India, the sources added.
At present, the Indian Navy has one operational aircraft carrier in the INS Vikramaditya while another one, INS Vikrant, is under construction at the Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) and is expected to join service in the next few years.
The Navy is also looking at options to further expand the existing aircraft carrier projects.