When it enters the deep water of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), even the most advanced drones, spy aircrafts and enemy vessels beat a hasty retreat.
In January 2014, the Indian Navy welcomed the arrival of its largest aircraft carrier – INS Vikramaditya. Vikramaditya boosted the Indian Navy’s aspiration to become a blue-water navy. This megaton warrior is currently operating around the Arabian Sea along with another aircraft carrier named, INS Viraat.
In the summer of 2012, it was making headlines because of NATO spying operation over it during the trials in Russian territory of Barents Sea and now in the summer of 2014, it is once again in the limelight due to the damage caused to a MiG-29K.
Very few people apart from defense analysts know about the capabilities of this beastly beauty. So, let us get some sneak-peak into the aircraft’s dossier.
Negotiations with Russian government were started way back in the year 1994 to acquire Admiral Gorshkov.
INS Vikramaditya is a modified version of Russian Kiev-class aircraft carrier with a code name R33. This aircraft carrier has gone through extensive refit and modernization process prior to its scheduled delivery.
Admiral Gorshkov has been renamed by the Indian Navy in the honour of the legendary first BC emperor of Ujjain, Vikramaditya. The name literally translates as “Strong as the Sun.”
This 44,500 Metric ton aircraft carrier is procured at a cost of over INR 15,000 crore ($ 2.3 bn).
Standing at a tall length of 930 ft (284 meters), INS Vikramaditya has 22 decks. This mega structure of steel is similar to stretching as much as three football fields together (300m). About 40% of the carrier is original to Gorshkov and rest of it is retrofitted and upgraded to meet military standards.
Installed power of 18 MWe (megawatt electrical) provides this aircraft carrier the speed of over 56 km/hr (30 Knots).
It is capable of carrying maximum of 36 aircrafts at a time, which includes the superior machines like MiG-29K multi-role fighters and Kamov Ka-31 Helix.
It makes use of three arrester wires to aid pilots for landing on the carrier after routine sorties of MiG 29-K fighter jet fleet. While resting at its home berth at the INS Kadamba naval base in Karwar coast, Vikramaditya requires 3 fifty-Tonne BP (Bollard Pull) Stern Drive Tugs.
It has the capacity to host six Ka-31 and K1-28 helicopters. Kamov Ka-31 is responsible for performing the role of airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system for INS Vikramaditya.
Vikramaditya is capable of positioning naval version of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) on its board, making it the first Indian aircraft carrier of the STOBAR (Short Take off but Assisted Recovery) category.
INS Vikramaditya has the capability to operate both in offensive and defensive modes. It has been equipped with hard power assets such as frigates, missile boats and attack submarines that can change the outcome of a maritime conflict.
Not only Vikramaditya is heavily armed, but it also hosts a variety of soft-power assets such as hospital ships, survey vessels and humanitarian relief & disaster relief (HADR) platforms to deal with any natural calamity such as tsunami, earthquake etc.
On duty 183 Russian personnel’s are helping the 1600-odd Indian sailors to operate this active aircraft. They’re also assigned with the task to train the officers of Indian side about the various strategies and operational tactics of R33.
With over 1600 personnel on board, Vikramaditya carries a mammoth logistics amounting to nearly a lakh of eggs, 20,000 liters of milk and 16 tonnes of rice, every month.
The induction of MiG-29 K in Vikramaditya has provided a significant boost to the maritime reconnaissance range of Indian Navy. They’re also equipped with lethal BVR (beyond visual range) and anti-ship missiles.
Indian Navy is first in the world to operate these twin engine all-weather multirole fighter aircraft. India has ordered 45 of these aircrafts in a multi-billion dollar deal with Russia.
INS Vikramaditya lacks its own air defence missile system such as an on-board close-in-weapon-system (CIWS) and long-range SAMS (Surface-to-air missiles). However, Indian Navy has decided to put Barak missiles on the carrier for protection against aerial attacks.
The warship has been inducted after almost delay of five years and a cost over–run near to 1 bn USD.
Similar to the great Indian King Vikramaditya, this blue water warrior is the most potent aircraft carrier with its on-board weapon strength, surveillance features and operational agility.