Naval Air: Pirates Kill Indian Carrier


May 5, 2011: India announced that it delaying, indefinitely, plans to build any more aircraft carriers. This is being done for several reasons. Most immediately, there is a growing problem with Somali pirates operating off the west coast of India and throughout the Indian Ocean. To deal with this problem, which doesn't appear to be going away soon, Indian warships and land based patrol aircraft have to spend more time patrolling. This is expensive. Another problem is that India has two aircraft carriers entering service in the next few years, and this may be more expensive than planned. Then there is the costly nuclear submarine program, which is getting more pricey, and time consuming, each year.

At the moment, India has only one carrier in service, the 29,000 ton INS Viraat. This ship returned to service two years ago, after 18 months in a shipyard for upgrades and refurbishment. The refurbished Russian carrier Gorshkov (now the 44,000 ton INS Vikramaditya), is supposed to enter service next year. India is also building a 42,000 ton carrier, or Air Defense Ship (ADS) and was planning on starting construction of a second one once the first one was launched. The first ADS ship is expected to enter service in 2012, and the second one was to be ready by 2017. But now, there won’t be a second ADS for at least a decade.

India has operated carriers for half a century, having initially acquired INS Vikrant from Britain in 1961. Vikrant was decommissioned in 1997. India acquired a second carrier, the Viraat, also from Britain, in 1986. When it enters service in 2012, the Vikramaditya will operate sixteen navalized MiG-29 fighters, plus some helicopters. The ADS ship will have a similar aircraft complement to the Vikramaditya.


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