India’s First Aircraft Carrier: INS Vikramaditya

INS Vikramaditya (lit. “Brave as the Sun”) is a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier and the flagship of the Indian Navy, which entered into service in 2013. Originally built as Baku and commissioned in 1987, the carrier served with the Soviet Navy and later with the Russian Navy (as Admiral Gorshkov) before being decommissioned in 1996. The carrier was purchased by India on 20 January 2004 after years of negotiations at a final price of $2.35 billion.

INS Vikramaditya is the Indian Navy’s largest short take-off but assisted recovery (STOBAR) aircraft carrier.

The warship was extensively refurbished with new propulsion systems, hull sections, sensors, and flight deck. It was operationally deployed with a full complement of MiG-29 aircraft in May 2014. The vessel can carry more than 30 long-range multi-role fighters with anti-ship missiles, air-to-air missiles, guided bombs, and rockets. The aircraft on board the carrier include MiG 29K / Sea Harrier combat aircraft, Kamov 31 radar picket Airborne Early Warning (AEW) helicopter, Kamov 28 naval helicopter, Sea King helicopter, ALH-Dhruv, and Chetak helicopter. The naval variant of the indigenous LCA Tejas fighter aircraft made its first landing on the INS Vikramaditya in January 2020.

The refurbished aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya is equipped with 234 new hull sections constructed using 2,500t of steel. It has an overall length of 284m, a maximum beam of 60m, the height of approximately 60m and a displacement of 44,500t. The warship has 22 decks and 2,500 compartments, of which 1,750 were completely re-built. It can carry more than 1,600 personnel, including crew. Sponsons are installed to increase the breadth at the flight deck.

The aircraft carrier can be armed with a wide range of weapons, including anti-ship missiles, beyond visual range air-to-air missiles, guided bombs, and rockets.

The INS Vikramaditya is powered by eight new generation boilers, which produce a total power of 180,000shp, driving four huge propellers. Each boiler generates 100tph of steam at a very high pressure of 64bar. The ship also employs six turbo-alternators and six diesel alternators, which produce a total power of 18MW. The warship can carry more than 8,000t of low sulphur high-speed diesel. It has a maximum speed of more than 30k and can achieve a maximum range of 7,000nmi. It can endure up to 45 days at sea.

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