May 21, 2007:
India announced that it will
definitely have three aircraft carriers within ten years. This has been the
plan for nearly a decade now, and includes the retirement of their only active
aircraft carrier, the INS Virar, in five years.
India has operated carriers for decades, having
initially acquired INS Vikrant from Britain in 1961. Vikrant was decommissioned
in 1997. India acquired a second carrier, also from Britain, the Viraat, in
1986. It has since negotiated a deal to acquire the Admiral Gorshkov from
Russia. The 45,000 ton Gorshkov will be renamed Vikramaditya when it enters
service in the next two or three years. It will operate sixteen navalized
MiG-29 fighters, plus some helicopters.
India is also building a 42,000 ton carrier, or Air
Defense Ship (ADS) and will begin construction of a second one once the first
one is launched. The first ADS ship is expected to enter service in 2012, and
the second one in 2017. Each ADS ship will have a similar aircraft complement to