INS Vishal | The future flagship of Indian Navy
An Alpha Defense Guest Article
The Indian Navy has decided that its’ next carrier INS Vishal is going to be a supercarrier with 65,000 tonnes most likely being empty displacement since it is said to have the basis of HMS Queen Elizabeth although the design is indigenous from Directorate of Naval Design Bureau. It will be fitted with CATOBAR to launch aircrafts with full payload. Here is an analysis on how effective would be the next supercarrier.
The need for a supercarrier
Indian Navy states the 3rd carrier as a necessity to counter the increasing strength of PLA Navy which is expected to operate 5 carriers by 2030-35. While India is building its’ first indigenous aircraft carrier, China is building its’ 2nd and planning its’ 3rd, with metal cutting speculated to have been done. Indian Navy has stated that it needs 2 aircraft carriers operational at any given point, the third aircraft carrier will provide a breathing space when 1 carrier is under maintenance, service or overhaul.
Benefits of a Carrier Battle Group (CBG)
Carrier battle group is like a floating base consisting of an aircraft carrier as its’ flagship and accompanied by vessels like cruisers, destroyers, Frigates, Corvettes and submarines. Indian Navys’ current standard carrier battle group consists of Kolkata class destroyer, Shivalik or Talwar class frigates, Kamorta Class anti submarine corvette and a submarine with a replenishment tanker, the CBGs are flexible and changes with what’s needed for the operations.
INS Vikrant is expected to have a standard carrier battle of Vishakhapatnam class of destroyers, Nilgiri or Talwar class frigates, Kamorta Class anti submarine corvette or next generation corvettes and a submarine of choice with a replenishment tanker.
Possible configuration of INS Vishals’ standard battle group, P18 class destroyers, P-17B class frigate or Nilgiri Class frigates, next generation corvettes and P-75A class submarine with a replenishment tanker Together, a carrier battle group can impose large scale area denial, project power far away from shores, protect the nations’ interests and annihilate smaller navies.
Read here on the Indian Navy Carrier Battle Groups from past to present to future.
How effective will INS Vishal be?
China is currently building a CATOBAR Carrier i.e. Type 003 weighing 85,000+ tonnes, many have question that will 65,000 tonne Vishal even be enough? While displacement is really irrelevant while comparing aircraft carriers as the main purpose of a carrier is to carry the aircrafts, for comparison, INS Vikrant, a 40,000+ tonne AC can carry 24-26 fixed wing fighter aircrafts compared to Chinese Navys’ CN Shangdong which carriers 26-30 fixed wing aircrafts while weighing about 1.6 times (63,000+ tonnes).
INS Vishal will carry around 55-60 (expected) aircrafts of which around 40 will be fixed wing aircrafts like TEDBF and AMCA and more, compared to around 60 (expected) of Chinas’ 85,000 tonne Type-003 of which 40 will be fixed wing aircrafts like J-15 and FC/J-31 etc. TEDBF, AMCA, and FC/J-31 are under development, while J-15 will require some redesigns to be operated from a CATOBAR.
Need for 2 aircraft carriers at any given time
2 aircraft carriers are required, each for Bay of Bengal and Arabian sea to protect and to implement naval blockade around Malacca Strait cutting the supply of hydrocarbons of the enemy
Indian Navy is still pushing INS Vishal for approval by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Recent updates suggest that P18 Destroyers and P-75A class will get approval next year. The expected cost is of ₹40,000 crores ( $5.5 Billion ) for the Carrier and another ₹40,000 for the air wing. With the growing economy of India, the 3rd aircraft carrier is inevitable. We can expect the approval by 2024-25 (not doing so will waste the infrastructure built for Vikrant), with construction starting around 2027-30 and induction in 2035-40. In 2045-50s, INS Vikramaditya may be retired and a sister ship of Vishal may be built which will be realistic given the economic growth.
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