COCHIN (India), Aug 12: India unveiled its first indigenously built aircraft carrier on Monday, a landmark moment in the $5 billion project that seeks to project the country’s power.

When the INS Vikrant comes into full service in 2018, India will join an elite club of nations that have designed and built their own aircraft carriers including Britain, France, Russia and the United States but not China.

“It’s a remarkable milestone,” Defence Minister A.K. Antony said as he stood on a red carpet in the shadow of the giant ship which was launched from a dry dock in the city of Cochin and later pulled out into the harbour by tugboats. “It marks just a first step in a long journey but at the same time an important one,” he added before his wife Elizabeth officially launched the 40,000-tonne vessel by placing a garland on its hull.

INS Vikrant, which will be fitted with weaponry and machinery and then tested over the next four years, is a major technological and military advancement for a country competing for influence in Asia, analysts say.

“It is going to be deployed in the Indian Ocean region where the world’s commercial and economic interests coalesce. India’s capability is very much with China in mind,” Rahul Bedi, a defence expert with IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, said.

On Saturday, India announced that its first indigenously built nuclear submarine was ready for sea trials, which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called a “giant stride” for the nation.

“All these are power projection platforms, to project India’s power as an extension of its diplomacy,” Bedi added.

The world’s biggest democracy is spending tens of billions of dollars for upgrading its mainly Soviet-era military hardware to bolster its defences.

Successes in its long-range missile and naval programmes have been tempered by expensive failures in developing its own aircraft and other land-based weaponry, leaving the country highly dependent on imports.

INS Vikrant is two years behind schedule after problems in sourcing specialised steel from Russia, delays with crucial equipment and even a road accident in which vital diesel generators were damaged.

Overall, India lags far behind China in defence capabilities, analysts say, making the success in beating its regional rival in the race to develop a domestically produced aircraft carrier significant.

China’s first carrier, the Liaoning, which was purchased from the Ukraine, went into service last September. But Beijing is reportedly planning to construct or acquire a bigger ship in the future.—AFP

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Comments (3)

KhanChengezKhan
August 13, 2013 11:56 am

The world’s biggest democracy and high rising poorest nation is spending tens of billions of dollars for its defense capability is knocking the door of un-accountable war and not for peace in the region. India has to think about feeding of their hunger and poor people and not spend billions of dollars in unproductive manner.

sanjeev
August 13, 2013 9:17 pm

@KhanChengezKhan: pakistan begs from IMF . India gives money to IMF. It means pak begs from India .

prithvi
August 14, 2013 6:02 pm

@KhanChengezKhan: firstly you dont know properly that what is happening in pakistan,their also poverty illitercy backwardness ,currupt govrt. and unemployment, jihad all are feature of pakistan stiil they manage to stole nuke technology from north korea etc.and show world and india nuke power beside pakistan having internal volance, poverty,and so many problem but still they want to compete india in every field .... so dont teach us and first improve our economy to create job and reduce unemployment and feed our people viceversa.........

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