INS Vishal, the Indian Navy supercarrier expected to be built by 2025, could be powered by nuclear energy and EMALS.
The design bureau is learnt to be favourably considering nuclear propulsion for INS Vishal and any future aircraft carrier built in India.
According to India Strategic, the success of the indigenously manufactured nuclear submarine INS Arihant has given the country’s scientists a much deeper experience and understanding of installing such propulsion systems into other vessels.
INS Vishal, which is being made in India, could also be having EMALS (Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch and Recovery System) CATOBAR (Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery), which enables aircrafts to fly from the flat deck of a supercarrier.
The Naval Design Bureau (NDB) is reportedly working towards designing this 65,000 tonne giant of an aircraft carrier codenamed IAC-II from which, if the EMALS CATOBAR system is installed, heavier aircrafts will be able to take off.
The current steam-powered CATOBAR technology is installed on each of the 10 US aircraft carriers. The technology allows an aircraft to take off from short distances on a carrier through a catapult.
EMALS, on the other hand, will be more powerful and be able to launch different aircraft in moments with the flick of a switch.
The under-construction Gerald R. Ford-class of aircraft carriers of the US Navy will be equipped with the EMALS CATOBAR.
Since the US has agreed to assist India in building INS Vishal, there is every possibility of this technology getting installed on the aircraft carrier.
But EMALS is just one side of the story. The other significant part is the use of nuclear power to run the ship.
The US nuclear-powered ships run on highly-enriched uranium that can keep the vessels running for 20 to 40 years without the need of refueling.
Indian scientists have perfected the technology of low-enriched uranium while constructing the INS Arihant submarine.
This means that the Arihant will be required to dock once in five years for refueling. That is in itself a phenomenal achievement for India’s indigenous defence production.
Six SSN (nuclear-propelled but not nuclear-armed) submarines and more SSBN Arihant class vessels are also under different stages of construction. They will be larger, and with more powerful nuclear reactors.
At the same time, India is gearing up for the 2018 induction of INS Vikrant, its first indigenously-developed aircraft carrier. Being built by Kochi Shipyard, INS Vikrant will be powered by four US-made LM2500 gas turbine engines.
India already has INS Vikramaditya but needs three aircraft carriers at all times. Carrier INS Viraat will be decommissioned next year.