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Flight trials to commence after hand-over to Navy
India's first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-1) Vikrant will be delivered to the Indian Navy by early 2021, the Navy's Controller of Warship Production & Acquisition Vice-Admiral AK Saxena has declared.
It will take longer for the Vikrant to be operational because flight trials will commence only after delivery to the Navy. MiG-29K fighters will operate from the deck of this 37,500-ton Short Take Off but Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) ski-jump carrier.
"Outfitting of the carrier is taking place at a brisk pace. Basic (shore) trials will begin by February-March 2020 followed by a series of contractor sea trials. The first step is starting of the gas turbine, which is scheduled for the third quarter of 2019-20," Vice-Admiral Saxena said while addressing a press conference to announce an international seminar on 'Nation Building Through Shipbuilding' in New Delhi on July 8.
"Outfitting of the carrier is taking place at a brisk pace. Basic (shore) trials will begin by February-March 2020 followed by a series of contractor sea trials. The first step is starting of the gas turbine, which is scheduled for the third quarter of 2019-20," Vice-Admiral Saxena said
The IAC-1 has been in the making since its keel laying in February 2009 at Cochin Shipyard. Design work on this warship began a decade earlier in 1999. The carrier was floated out of its dry dock on December 29, 2011, and launched on August 12, 2013. The cost has escalated to 19,341 Crore.
While the IAC-1 is slowly transitioning to reality, uncertainty dogs the envisaged second indigenous carrier, the IAC-2. "At this time, there's an issue of finance," the Indian Navy Controller of Warship Production & Acquisition acknowledged, confirming that the programme is in a limbo. Amidst a budgetary crunch, competing military requirements have put the IAC-2 on hold.
The Indian Navy seeks three operational aircraft carriers in its fleet.