SOURCE: GIRISH LINGANNA / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG.
Named after the first Indian aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant was commissioned on the 76th Independence Day. Built at an overall cost of nearly Rs 20,000 crore under a contract between the defence ministry and the Cochin shipyard, the project progressed in three phases ending in May 2007, December 2014 and October 2019, respectively. Its keel was laid in February 2009.
Entering the Elite Club of Indigenous Aircraft Carriers
Powered by GE Marine’s four LM2500 engines producing 88 MW, give it a maximum speed of 28 knots. INS Vikrant is a testament to the success of the Indian Government’s “Make In India” initiative, as 76 per cent of the content is indigenous. Now, India joins a select group of countries like the US, UK, China and France that could build their indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC). Until now, India imported aircraft carriers.
In 2007, the IAC project started. Eventually, it was announced that GE Marine had been selected to provide the power unit, and for this task, GE Marine entrusted the LM2500 marine gas turbines. For the INS Vikrant, the LM2500 was to be built by the Indian public sector company, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), in partnership with GE. The 262-metre-long carrier has 14 decks, can accommodate a crew of 1,700, and can operate 30 aircraft. A high degree of automation for machinery operations, navigation and survivability has been built into the INS Vikrant. It can also accommodate a combination of aircraft: fixed-wing and rotary.
The ship’s air wing can accommodate 30 aircraft, including the Mig-29K combat aircraft, Kamov-31, MH-60R multi-role helicopter, indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter and the Light Combat Aircraft. The aircraft carrier uses Short Take-Off but Arrested Landing (STOBAR) aircraft-operation mode. For this, the aircraft is launched using a ski-jump take-off strip visually recognised as the narrow, slanting tarmac to one side of the carrier. While landing on a shorter runway, the carrier uses special metallic wires that the aircraft hooks and these arrester wires tighten to bring the aircraft to a halt swiftly. In case of an issue in landing, the pilot speeds up and takes off again to circle back and try landing again.
The Vikrant underwent four phases of sea trials of significant equipment and systems between August 2021 and July 2022.
Star Performer: LM2500 Gas Turbine
For over 30 years, GE has worked with HAL, which assembles, inspects, and tests all LM2500 gas turbines built for the Indian Navy. The LM2500 gas turbine kits were manufactured at GE’s Evendale, Ohio, USA facility and assembled and tested by HAL’s Industrial & Marine Gas Turbine Division in Bangalore, India. HAL is one of the world’s leading aerospace companies manufacturing and maintaining aircraft, helicopters, avionics and aerospace defence equipment.
GE Marine has been a faithful companion to the Indian Navy. It has provided the Navy with eighteen engines which are in service. And this relationship is bound to be stronger as it will be offered additional power units for the Project 17A ship. With the world’s most market-dominant gas turbine from GE, the Indian Navy and 39 other navies have worldwide support, whether onshore or at sea, and interoperability benefits with other allied ships. An accurate picture of the GE engines’ success is that it powers 95% of the commissioned gas turbines in the US Navy fleet. Worldwide, GE gas turbines are found in 633 naval ships. With the LM2500’s outstanding track record of being ready for the fight and its ease of maintenance and global support, the LM2500 continues to be the gas turbine of choice of the world’s navies.
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