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Context: INS Viraat to head to Alang yard for dismantling.

Analysis

  • The Indian Navy currently operates one aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, while the second, INS Vikrant, is under construction in Cochin, due for commissioning in 2022. 

  • There had been demands from various quarters to not let Viraat be scrapped like we did with INS Vikrant (India’s first carrier that was eventually scrapped)
  • Don’t get confused. INS Vikrant is also the name of India’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier or IAC-1). 
  • INS Vikrant, which has a displacement comparable to Vikramaditya (45000T), is under construction at Kochi Shipyard and is soon expected to undergo sea trials
  • Alang in Gujarat is the world’s biggest ship breaking yard with hundreds of ships getting scrapped each year.
  • Since 2017, India has been operating a single carrier — INS Vikramaditya — as against the minimum essential operational requirement of having two Carrier Battle Groups — which are formations of ships and submarines with Aircraft Carriers at the lead role.
  • But the Maritime Capability Perspective Plan of the Navy envisages a force level of three aircraft carriers, to ensure development of a capability to operate two Carrier Battle Groups (CBGs) at any given time.     
  • CBGs are large task formations centred around a carrier, and provide unmatched flexibility, reach and sustainability.
  • These are primary assets for the projection of power, and provide credible deterrence through visibility.
  • China currently operates two carriers, and is likely to have four by 2028, with the eventual aim of 10 by 2050.