India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, will be undocked on completion of structural work at the Cochin Shipyard on May 28.
“All major equipment has gone into the vessel, which has now acquired the shape of an aircraft carrier, with a finished hull. Barring a bit of ongoing work on the super structure, structural work is all over and the internal compartments have all been welded in,” said a yard official.
Outfitting is steadily progressing at the moment, but a major part of it — including piping, electrical cabling, control system wiring — will be carried out after the vessel is launched, marking the culmination of the third stage of work in the second phase of carrier construction for which a contract was signed between Cochin Shipyard and the Navy in December last year.
The extended first phase of work on the carrier was completed in August 2013 when the carrier had its official launch, but there was a delay in the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) sanctioning money for the second phase, which as per a schedule prepared in 2010 should be over in 2016.
The CCS sanction for the first phase was Rs. 3,261 crore, while the allocation for the critical second phase is Rs. 2,840 crore. The equipment already fitted in will be set to work towards the end of the ongoing phase after which basin trials will commence in 2017 to be on time for delivery in end-2018. The aircraft carrier will displace over 40,000 tonnes at the time of its induction into the Navy.
While some 14 contracts have been signed with the Russian Rosoboronexport for the carrier’s aviation complex, delivery of major aviation equipment has not begun yet.
The aviation complex is designed by the Nevskoye Design Bureau, as Vikrant will have a complement of Russian-origin MiG 29 K fighter planes operating from its flight deck alongside the indigenously developed Naval LCA (when it receives operational clearance).
Meanwhile, the yard is awaiting clearances from the Directorate of Naval Design (DND) to start installation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
“Ironically, obsolescence of equipment already delivered and stacked for sometime could pose a problem towards the end of the second phase when they are set to work,” said an official.
Equipment such as the massive gas turbines, for instance, would have outlived its guarantee period by the time the pre-delivery trials begin, he pointed out.