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Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently announced ambitious plans for the Indian Navy, outlining a potential future with four operational aircraft carrier groups in the next 15 years. This significant expansion goes beyond the previously envisioned three-carrier force, aiming to solidify India’s naval presence in the strategically important Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

The Indian Navy has long desired three carrier battle groups, strategically deployed on the western and eastern seaboard with a third undergoing maintenance. However, Minister Singh’s announcement suggests a potential addition of two to three more carriers, pushing the total to four or five.

Any additional carriers beyond the initial three would likely be dedicated to the IOR. This aligns with the Navy’s ongoing infrastructure expansion in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a critical chokepoint for any navy entering the region. Naval officials see these islands as a potential home base for a future carrier group.

The Indian Navy is reportedly keen on developing two 65,000-ton aircraft carriers simultaneously, a significant acceleration from the current practice of building sister ships sequentially if allowed by MoD. This faster approach would allow both carriers to join the fleet within a shorter timeframe.

The Navy’s immediate focus remains on its third aircraft carrier, a 45,000-ton sister ship to the recently inducted INS Vikrant. This new carrier will bolster India’s naval capabilities while the ambitious four-carrier vision unfolds.

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