India expects to bring into service its first domestically made aircraft carrier by 2018 as it looks to counter China’s expanding military capabilities in the region.
The diesel-powered, 40,000-ton INS Vikrant will be ready within three years, Indian Navy Chief R.K. Dhowan told reporters in New Delhi today. It’s under construction at a shipyard in the southern port city of Kochi.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved $45 billion of weapons purchases since taking power last May. He’s seeking to keep pace with China to prevent it from gaining a foothold in the Indian Ocean.
The aircraft carrier project is three years behind schedule after difficulties in procuring materials, including high-grade steel from Russia. When finished, it will be capable of supporting MiG-29K fighter jets, helicopters and long-range surface-to-air missile systems, according to a 2013 government statement when the carrier was named.
India’s navy currently has two aircraft carriers: the 56-year-old INS Viraat built by the British and a refurbished Russian vessel.