Three months after the sinking of India’s Russian-built submarine INS Sindhurakshak, the navy finally has reason to cheer.
Defence minister AK Antony on Saturday commissioned the $2.33-billion Russian-made aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya (formerly Admiral Gorshkov), into the Indian Navy at Severodvinsk in Russia, almost 20 years after the country began negotiations to buy the warship.
Antony said Vikramaditya would significantly enhance the reach and capability of the Indian Navy, which currently operates only one aircraft carrier, INS Viraat, a second-hand British warship inducted in 1987.
Speaking at the Sevmash shipyard where the ceremony was held amid snowfall, he said, “The induction of Vikramaditya with its integral MiG-29K fighters and Kamov-31 helicopters adds a new dimension to our navy’s operational capabilities.”
Antony said the warship’s name — meaning strong as the sun— was complemented by its motto — strike Far, strike Sure.
Antony said the culmination of Project 11430, codename for the carrier project, symbolised the “special and privileged strategic partnership” between the two countries. “It has propelled the strategic partnership between our nations to a new level,” he said, calling the refurbishment of the warship “an engineering marvel.”
The Indian Navy has been in the business of operating carriers for decades. INS Vikrant, bought from UK, was commissioned as the navy’s first carrier in 1961. It was retired in 1997. Navy chief Admiral DK Joshi said Vikramaditya would bridge the time-gap that may come up between the retirement of INS Viraat and the induction of the indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant.