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In a significant move to bolster India’s maritime prowess, Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar has advocated for the development of a second aircraft carrier based on the INS Vikrant design. This strategic decision comes as the Indian Navy envisions a future with two operational aircraft carriers and a third undergoing routine maintenance.

The Indian Navy’s flagship carrier, INS Vikramaditya, a modified Kiev-class carrier, will be nearing the end of its 25-year lifespan, with its retirement slated for 2038. To fill this void, the Navy will be seeking approval for a third aircraft carrier, which is expected to be cleared before 2030 and take approximately 7-9 years to construct.

Looking beyond 2035, the Navy is already making a strong case for a larger 65,000-ton aircraft carrier to replace INS Vikramaditya. This formidable vessel will boast a displacement of 20,000 tons more than the current INS Vikrant, enabling it to support UCAV operations and introduce the EMALS system for “Catapult Assisted Take-Off Barrier Arrested Recovery” – a first for Indian Navy carriers, which typically employ the STOBAR (Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery) system.

The new carrier will also be equipped to handle Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs), adding a new dimension to the Navy’s offensive and surveillance capabilities. UCAVs, with their ability to operate autonomously, provide extended range and reduced risk to human pilots, making them a valuable asset in modern warfare.

The Navy is anticipating approval for the second aircraft carrier in 2024, with an estimated construction period of seven to nine years. The Indian Navy’s vision of a three-carrier fleet is a testament to its unwavering commitment to safeguarding the nation’s maritime interests. With a focus on self-reliance and technological advancement, the Navy is poised to play an increasingly influential role in the global maritime landscape.

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