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A recent statement by India’s defense minister proposing a fleet of five to six new aircraft carriers has sparked debate within the country. While the plan, if realized, would significantly bolster India’s naval power, some experts question its seriousness and feasibility.

Skeptics like Abhijit Singh, a former naval officer turned defense analyst, believe the minister’s statement may have been a casual remark amplified by the media. He suggests it was perhaps meant to counter perceptions of the government’s reluctance to build a third carrier.

Strategic considerations also fuel the debate. Some experts, like Singh, advocate for a single, larger carrier equipped with catapults, viewing India’s current smaller carriers as increasingly vulnerable in future conflicts. However, India’s financial constraints might limit them to building another “flattop” (a smaller carrier design) as Singh puts it.

Despite the debate on size and quantity, there’s agreement on the importance of aircraft carriers in India’s maritime strategy. Singh highlights their role not just in wartime dominance but also in peacetime operations. He emphasizes the “psychological balance” these carriers can shift, projecting power in a way no other naval platform can.

The path forward for India’s aircraft carrier fleet remains unclear. Whether the government’s proposal reflects a serious strategic shift or mere posturing is a question that only time will answer. However, the debate underscores the complex considerations India faces in navigating its naval ambitions.