India’s indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, will be re-launched on May 28 at Cochin Shipyard Limited in Kochi, marking the completion of the critical stage of phase II.
“All major equipment has gone into the vessel, which has now acquired the shape of an aircraft carrier, with a finished hull. Barring a bit of ongoing work on the super structure, structural work is all over and the internal compartments have all been welded in,” a shipyard official was quoted as saying by The Hindu on Thursday.
The outfitting of the ship is steadily progressing, but the fitting, including piping, electrical cabling; control system wiring will be carried out after the vessel launch, marking the third stage of work in the second phase of carrier construction for which a contract was signed in December last year.
India’s Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) program encountered multiple delays during the last few years with budget overruns as high as $4 billion. In July 2014, the new government decided to accelerate construction and allocated about $3.1 billion for completion.
The 400-ton INS Vikrant, which is five years behind schedule, is supposed to begin sea-trials in 2017 and should be inducted into the Indian Navy by late 2018. Despite contractual agreements over the construction of carrier’s aviation complex have been signed “delivery of major aviation equipment has not begun yet” leading to additional delay.
The INS Vikrant is expected to carry 36 fixed-wing aircraft including the Russian-made MiG-29 K and the yet-to-be-inducted indigenously-produced Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas. It will also carry up to ten Kamov Ka-31 or Westland Sea King Helicopters.