INS Vikrant to project dominance in Indo-Pacific

Updated on Sep 02, 2022 02:43 PM IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually defined the mission of INS Vikrant by mentioning Indian Ocean, Indo-Pacific and protection of sea lanes for friendly nations (read QUAD) in the context of rapidly deteriorating security environment in the Indo-Pacific.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi receives a Guard of Honour as he arrives for the commissioning ceremony of the first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, at Cochin Shipyard Limited in Kochi.(PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi receives a Guard of Honour as he arrives for the commissioning ceremony of the first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, at Cochin Shipyard Limited in Kochi.(PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the mission keywords Indian Ocean, Indo-Pacific and maritime security for sea lanes for friendly nations while commissioning the 40,000-ton aircraft carrier INS Vikrant today. In unvarnished terms, it means that INS Vikrant strike force will project Indian dominance in the Indo-Pacific and the Indian Ocean in synergy with friendly nations also known as the QUAD grouping.

While the aircraft land and take-off trials of INS Vikrant using MiG-29K fighters will begin immediately, the vessel will be battle ready by next year with sister aircraft carrier Vikramaditya rejoining the fleet by December this year. The INS Vikrant with highly efficient GE turbine engines will finally be home-based at Visakhapatnam on the east coast with focus on the Indo-Pacific, while INS Vikramaditya will project force on India’s western seaboard and be home based at INS Karwar.

While the Modi government will choose between French Rafale M and American F-18 fighters as principal weapons of INS Vikrant, the warship will also have a forward base at Andamans and Nicobar Islands with a container terminal planned at Campbell Bay in Great Nicobar Islands.

The new Naval ensign unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The new Naval ensign unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This will allow INS Vikrant to project dominance in the Indo-Pacific and offer maritime and energy security to merchant vessels passing through Malacca, Sunda, and Lombok Straits of Indonesia. This will also allow unimpeded mercantile trade including much needed hydrocarbons from Persian Gulf to friendly ASEAN nations, Japan, Australia, and US bases in the Indo-Pacific.

By tasking INS Vikrant to Indo-Pacific, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has clearly defined the maritime objectives of the new aircraft carrier as the designated area has become a hot spot due to Chinese belligerence and expanding footprint all the way up to Solomon Islands in the Far Pacific. With the PLA suffering from the delusion that the South China Sea is its backyard, the INS Vikrant along with its partners US, Japan and Australia have an earmarked task of ensuring freedom of navigation in the region.

While India is using US leased Predator drones from INS Rajali to monitor maritime activity from Gulf of Aden to beyond Sunda Straits, it will soon join hands with strategic partner France for creating maritime domain awareness and ocean bed mapping for countering submarine activity of the adversary. The INS Vikrant will also shore up the confidence of friendly neighbourhood countries who are currently under pressure from China to yield by opening ports and infrastructure.

With the Indian Navy having more than five decades of aviation under its belt, a two carrier India is a force to reckon with in the region as its only partner US is the dominating carrier navy in the region. Even though China now has three aircraft carrier Navy, landing and taking off from a carrier in turbulent seas and typhoon winds is a hard task which cannot be learnt on simulators but only by experience.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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