Nine shipyards including four owned by private players have been shortlisted by the government to compete for building the next generation indigenous aircraft carrier for the Indian Navy which could be nuclear powered.
The naval headquarters has written a letter seeking expression of intent for participation in the project, the most expensive single platform under 'Make In India' initiative, to the shortlisted shipyards. They have been given a deadline of July 21 to respond, defence sources said.
The four private shipyards are L&T, Pipavav, ABG and Bharti. The public sector shipyards are Mazagon Docks Limited, Garden Reach Shipbuilder and Engineers, Hindustan Shipyards Limited, Cochin Shipyard Limited and Goa Shipyard Limited.
The government has set up a high-level study group, headed by Assistant Controller of Carrier Project Rear Admiral Surendra Ahuja to identify the suitable Indian shipyard and to arrive at a build strategy.
The proposed 65,000 tonne aircraft carrier will be India's biggest and longest. It will also carry on board over 50 aircraft.
The first indigenous aircraft carrier - 40,000 tonne INS Vikrant - being build by the Cochin Shipyard has the capacity to carry 30 aircraft. The 45,000 tonne INS Vikramaditya, bought from the Russians, has capacity of 34 aircraft.
According to the letter sent out to the shipyards, the warship could be either be nuclear-powered or conventional one using diesel and gas turbines.
It would have a catapult to launch fixed wing aircraft.
India has always used "ski-jump" at the end of the flight deck to fly the planes off the carrier.
This is one area where the US will come into play. India and US have set up a working group to collaborate on aircraft carrier technology after the visit of US President Barack Obama.
American Navy's latest carrier, the 100,000-tonne USS Gerald R Ford, which will be commissioned next year, is the world's only carrier featuring electromagnetic aircraft launch
This means that the aircraft will gain its take-off velocity through an electromagnetic rail gun instead of the conventional steam-driven catapults.
The letter by the Navy says that modern technology can be considered for catapult launch.