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Indian Navy carrier may get US aircraft launching system

The proposed ship, labelled IAC -II, will be powered by heavy fuels. . The proposed cost of electrically propelled carrier will be around Rs 1.5 lakh crore.

india Updated: Nov 06, 2017 07:44 IST
Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Narendra Modi,Indo-US talks,Indian Navy
A US team visited India’s sole aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya on October 31.(AFP File Photo)

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting US President Donald Trump on November 13, the India and the US made some progress with a proposed Indian Navy carrier to be fitted with electric propelled latest electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) and powered by integrated electric propulsion.

The 11 member US team led by Rear Admiral Brian Antonio, Program Executive Officer, aircraft carriers met his Indian counterpart Vice Admiral D M Deshpande, Controller Warship Production and Acquisition in Goa from October 29-31.

The visit of the US team to India’s sole aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya on October 31 ruffled the Russians with Moscow protesting to India through diplomatic channels about taking Americans to a Russian built platform. The protests, according to South Block officials, were brushed aside as the bilateral sale agreement does not impose any such conditions on India. In any case, former US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter had also visited INS Vikramaditya with then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on April 16, 2016.

Sources said that at the meeting of the joint working group on aircraft carrier technology, the US was ready to power the EMALS with integrated electric propulsion rather than nuclear power as the cost of latter alone is over $ one billion or Rs 6.5 thousand crore. This will involve installation of giant capacitors for storage and discharge of power.

The proposed ship, labelled IAC -II, will be powered by heavy fuels instead of nuclear reactors as the cost of the latter runs into prohibitive Rs 2 lakh crore. The decision to stick to electric propulsion was taken as maintenance and disposal costs of nuclear aircraft carriers are very high. The proposed cost of electrically propelled carrier will be around Rs 1.5 lakh crore.

While the figures of development of IAC -II are mindboggling, the fact remains that India needs a minimum of two aircraft carriers to guard its east and west coast and dominate the Indian Ocean and beyond. With Chinese PLA Navy’s focus shifting to carrier based aviation to project power in East and North Asia, India along with its allies needs long sea legs to ensure that sea lanes of communications and overflights are not unilaterally restricted by any aggressor.

In January, the Indian Navy had issued a request for intent for 57 carrier based aircraft following which the US (for F-18), France (Rafale), Sweden (Sea Grippen) and Russia (MiG-29 K) submitting detailed proposals by May. It is understood that President Trump is expected to discuss the F-18 and F-16 offer to India during his meeting with PM Modi to boost military capacities and dominance.

First Published: Nov 06, 2017 07:43 IST