Defence Minister of India Rajnath Singh reviewed the progress of construction of the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) built by Cochin Shipyard Ltd. at Kochi, Kerala today. He was accompanied by Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh and Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command Vice Admiral AK Chawla.
The Defence Minister paid a visit to the construction site and was briefed about the successful Basin Trials completed in November 2020. He was also informed about the progress made on the integration of a number of other navigational, communication and operational systems, as now it prepares for its maiden Contractor Sea Trials (CST) which is expected in the forthcoming months.
In the first half of the year 2022, the IAC will be commissioned as the INS Vikrant, which will be the most potent sea-based asset. The ship will be equipped with MiG-29K fighter jets, Kamov-31 air early warning helicopters, the soon to be inducted MH-60R multi-role helicopter, and indigenously produced advanced light helicopters.
It will offer an incomparable military instrument with an ability to project air power over long distances, including air interdiction, offensive and defensive counter-air, anti-surface warfare, airborne anti-submarine warfare and airborne early warning.
During the visit, an exhibition was organised that showcased the Indian Navy’s various ongoing innovations, indigenisation and operations aligning with the nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The major exhibits included the Oxygen Recycling System (ORS), which is currently under clinical trials at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Science and Technology; Navrakshak PPE and masks that are currently being used in PM CARES hospitals, remote patient monitoring system and several such other innovations which have offered affordable, effective and user-friendly medical solutions.
The Defence Minister was also apprised about the assistance rendered to civil agencies such as the Fire Safety Audit of hospitals and specialised training on PSA Oxygen Plants in addition to an overview of the Samudra Setu II and Oxygen Express Operations.
Later he also held an interaction with a 10-year-old Veer Kashyap, a student of Navy Children School Kochi, who had won the Pradhan Mantri Bal Puraskar 2021 for developing an innovative board game ‘Corona Yuga’ for educating and creating awareness about the pandemic.
Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh expressed satisfaction at the progress of construction of Indigenous Aircraft Carrier, describing it as a shining example of ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He claimed that IAC has nearly 75% indigenous content – from design to steel used in construction to key weapons and sensors. He also recalled a recent approval accorded by the Defence Acquisition Council for RFP of Project 75-I under the Strategic Partnership model, which will further help in the indigenous development of niche manufacturing technologies.
He emphasised on the combat capability, reach and versatility of the aircraft carrier, saying that it will add formidable capabilities in the defence of the country and help secure India’s interests in the maritime domain.
He reaffirmed the Government’s commitment towards a strong Indian Navy, saying that “IAC and Project Seabird at Karwar, which will be Asia’s largest Naval Base, as the examples of our unwavering focus”. He outlined the Government’s plans to modernise the Indian Navy, with a focus on indigenization, which will improve the Navy’s operational reach and prowess.
On the Galwan incident, the Minister stated that the Indian Navy’s proactive forward deployment signalled that the nation wants peace but is ready for any eventuality. “Indian Navy remains poised and combat-ready to tackle any challenge,” he said.
He reiterated the Prime Minister’s vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the wider goal of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific to ensure peace and stability in the region.
Defence Minister also lauded the Indian Navy for its contribution in the fight against COVID-19 – from bringing back Indian citizens from abroad during Operation Samudra Setu I and ferrying in Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) during Operation Samudra Setu lI – despite the danger of the spread of the virus. He also commended the Search and Rescue (SAR) efforts taken by the Navy during Cyclone Tauktae and Yaas.