India’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC)will be commissioned next year and its combat capability, reach and versatility will add formidable capabilities in the country’s defence, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said here on Friday.

In a statement to the media after visiting the IAC at Ernakulam wharf of the Cochin port to review its construction progress, Singh described it as India’s pride and a shining example of Atmanirbhar Bharat.

The IAC would be commissioned as INS Vikrant in the first half of 2022, which would be the most potent sea-based asset. The ship shall operate MiG-29K fighter aircraft, Kamov-31 Air Early Warning Helicopters, the soon to be inducted MH-60R multi-role helicopter and the indigenously manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters. It would offer an incomparable military instrument with its ability to project Air Power over long distances, including Air Interdiction, Anti-Surface Warfare, offensive and defensive Counter-Air, Airborne Anti-Submarine Warfare and Airborne Early Warning. 

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“The project was originally approved by the NDA government and has made significant progress in recent past despite COVID

Commissioning of the IAC next year will be a befitting tribute to 75 years of India’s independence”, Singh said in the statement read out to the media.

“The combat capability, reach and versatility of the aircraft carrier will add formidable capabilities in the defence of our country and help secure India’s interests in the maritime domain,” the Defence Minister said.

The minister said it was a pleasure to review first- hand, the work being done on the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier.

During the visit, an exhibition showcasing Indian Navy’s various ongoing innovations, indigenisation and operations aligning with the nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic was also organised for the minister. 

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The minister also interacted with 10-year-old Veer Kashyap, a student of Navy Children School Kochi, who had won the Pradhan Mantri Bal Puraskar 2021 for developing an innovative board game ‘Corona Yuga’ for educating and creating awareness about the pandemic among the public at large. 

The RakshaMantri was also informed about the activities being conducted and planned by Indian Navy towards ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ being celebrated by the Armed Forces to commemorate the victory of 1971 war and ‘AzadiKaAmritMahotsav’ to commemorate the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence. 

Singh, who reviewed Project Seabird at Karwar which will be the largest naval base of the Indian Navy in future, and will provide the facilities and infrastructure to support the Navy’s operations in the Indian Ocean Region and beyond, said the government is fully committed to a strong navy and these two projects are examples of our unwavering focus.

“Our impetus to modernisation, harnessing India’s indigenous industry and know-how, is a key priority. Forty-two of the 44 warships on order being built at Indian shipyards is a testimony to this”, he said.

He said the IAC boasts of nearly 75 per cent indigenous content, from design, to steel used in construction, to key weapons and sensors.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has also recently accorded approval for RFP of Project 75-I under the Strategic Partnership model, which will give further fillip to indigenous development of niche manufacturing technologies, the Minister said.

“These measures will help enhance the Indian Navy’s operational reach and prowess to protect India’s maritime interests,” he said.

Singh said the Indian Navy remains poised and combat ready to tackle any challenge.

“Navy’s proactive forward deployment during the Galwan standoff signalled our intent that we seek peace but are ready for any eventuality,” the minister added.

He said the Navy has also made significant contributions in the fight against COVID, bringing back Indian citizens from overseas during Op SamudraSetu-I, and much needed Liquid Medical Oxygen during SamudraSetu-lI, despite dangers of COVID spread onboard warships.

SAR efforts by the Navy during Cyclone Tauktae showcased the spirit of daring and courage among our men and women in whites, he said.

“Our efforts are in alignment with thePrime Minister’s Vision of SAGAR, or Security and Growth for All in the Region, and the wider goal of a Free, Open and Inclusive Indo-Pacific, to ensure peace and stability in the region,” he added.

Source: Manorama