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INS Vikrant embarks on its maiden operational trials of Air Wing integration

Source : The Hindu Business Line

INS Vikrant embarks on its maiden operational trials of Air Wing integration
Indigenous Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant (File Photo)

More than a month after being commissioned into the Indian Navy, aircraft carrier INS Vikrant left the Cochin Shipyard dock on Friday for a maiden sea sortie. The first indigenously developed and built 43,000-tonne aircraft carrier is to commence the first of a series of operational level trials, said Navy sources.

Cochin Shipyard Ltd Director (Operations), Sreejith KN, confirmed to businessline that INS Vikrant had departed for routine trials. "Now the vessel is with the Navy, they are better placed to talk about it, but the INS Vikrant has moved into a routine sortie for the first time since commissioning and is expected to return around November 21," he said.

The warship is supposed to undergo deck integration trials of fixed wing aircraft that would also involve use of the Aviation Facility Complex (AFC). In a pre-commissioning interaction with media on August 24, the Navy’s Vice-Chief of Staff, Vice-Admiral S.N. Ghormade, said the warship would become battle worthy by the middle of next year. The MiG-29k fighter landing trials would roll out in November. The aviation facility system has been sourced from the Russia, sources in the Navy said.

The warship will have a fleet of 30 aircrafts -- 18 Mig 29s and a dozen Russian-made Kamov and newly inducted MH60 Romeo helicopters bought from the US. They will be weaponised with anti-submarine capabilities. The aircraft carrier, also equipped with surface-to-air missiles, has a maximum speed of 28 knots, with an endurance of 7,500 nautical miles, and can accommodate 16,000 men and women officers and sailors in specialised cabins.

Commissioned into the Indian Navy in September, INS Vikrant offers strategic depth and a dominating presence in the Indian Ocean region. India joints an elite club of countries -- the US, China, the UK, Russia, France, and Italy -- that have developed individual capabilities to design and build an aircraft carrier.

Anti-narcotics operation

In a coordinated operation at sea, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and the Indian Navy apprehended a suspicious vessel carrying more than 200 kg of narcotics. The boat and its crew has been escorted to Kochi for further investigation, said the Navy. “This is significant not only in terms of quantity and cost, but also collaborative efforts for disruption of illegal narcotics smuggling routes, which emanate from the the Makran coast and flow towards IOR countries. Apart from the human cost of drug addiction, the spoils of the narcotics trade feeds syndicates involved in terrorism, radicalisation and criminal activities,” the Navy said in a statement.

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