India commissions its first indigenous aircraft carrier

In this handout picture provided by the Indian Navy, INS Vikrant, India's first indigenously-built aircraft carrier, sails for sea trials from Kochi, India, on Aug 25, 2022. (INDIAN NAVY VIA AP)

NEW DELHI – India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday commissioned the country's first indigenous aircraft carrier "INS Vikrant" in the southern state of Kerala.

'INS Vikrant' is the largest warship ever built in India, which was named after India's first aircraft carrier, the Indian Navy said in a statement.

The Indian navy said it took 13 years to build 'INS Vikrant'.

Designed to accommodate a crew of about 1,600 and a fleet of 30 aircraft, it has a total displacement capacity of around 43,000 tonnes when fully loaded.

"Today, India has joined those countries in the world which can manufacture such a huge aircraft carrier with indigenous technology," Modi said. "It is a symbol of indigenous potential, indigenous resources and indigenous skills."

The Vikrant will rely on Russian-designed MIG-29K aircraft that already operate from India's other carrier, the INS Vikramaditya, which India bought from Russia.

It is a symbol of indigenous potential, indigenous resources and indigenous skills.

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, India

Boeing and France's Dassault are seeking to provide India with more than two dozen jets for the Vikrant.

India is one of the world's largest arms importers, spending $12.4 billion between 2018 and 2021, but it has been seeking to develop its own manufacturing capabilities as key supplier Russia is involved in a special military operation in Ukraine and faces sanctions.

India has identified some 8,000 imported defense items worth about 82 trillion rupees ($1.03 trillion) in 2022-23 that it wants its firms to make, according to the country’s defense ministry.

"India is working with all its might to become self-reliant," Modi said, referring to the home-built Tejas light-combat aircraft and artillery. 

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INS Vikrant will significantly add to India's maritime capabilities, allowing the navy to operate an aircraft carrier on each seaboard, alongside its 10 destroyers, 12 frigates and 20 corvettes.