INS Vikrant: India’s Indigenous Move
- 02 Sep 2022
- 10 min read
This editorial is based on “A welcome addition to the naval quiver” which was published in Hindustan Times on 01/09/2022. It talks about the commissioning of India's first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier, Vikrant.
From the first indigenous warship INS Ajay in 1960, to the first indigenous frigate INS Nilgiri in 1968, the commissioning of the first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, is a significant punctuation in India’s pursuit of self-reliance (Aatmanirbhar Bharat).
At 45,000 tonnes, Vikrant is the largest naval ship to be designed and built in India, and with this accomplishment, the country joins the band of nations that have demonstrated such capability with major countries like United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK), France, Russia, Italy, and China.
While the absorption of indigenisation has matured, a large gap still exists in the development of critical technologies, Hi-Tech components, weapons and advanced manufacturing processes.
It is imperative to identify relevant demand-side functional domains and technologies to channel indigenous efforts towards attaining sustainable self-reliance in cutting-edge defence technologies.
What is the Significance of INS Vikrant in India’s Maritime Security?
- Vikrant (which means courageous) is named after India's first aircraft carrier, bought from the UK and commissioned in 1961.
- The first INS Vikrant was a major symbol of national pride and played an important role in several military operations including the 1971 Indo-Pak War before being decommissioned in 1997. Now India’s first homemade aircraft carrier will carry the name of her illustrious predecessor.
- After its induction, the warship will be a key component of the Indian Navy’s push to establish itself as a blue water force, one with the ability to project its power on distant seas.
- It is especially important amid India’s bid to be a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region where it faces China, whose navy is focused on aircraft carriers and has already inducted two vessels.
- With the commissioning of INS Vikrant, India will have two operational aircraft carriers ( the other one is INS Vikramaditya) , which will bolster the maritime security of the nation.
What are the Other Aircraft Carriers Across the World?
- USA: USS Gerald R Ford Class
- China: Fujian
- United Kingdom: Queen Elizabeth Class
- Russia: Admiral Kuznetsov
- France: Charles De Gaulle
- Italy: Cavour
What are the Challenges of Indigenisation for Indian Navy?
- Dependence on Import For Subsystems and Components: Any warship has three components, from design to final operational induction ( FLOAT, MOVE, FIGHT).
- Indian Navy has been able to achieve about 90% indigenisation in the ‘FLOAT’ category, followed by about 60% in ‘MOVE' category depending upon the type of propulsion.
- However, in the ‘FIGHT’ category we have achieved only about 30% indigenisation. Imports make up the remainder.
- Growing Chinese Influence in the Indian Ocean: Building on its antipiracy missions, China has emerged as a strong partner for the islands and littoral countries of the Indian Ocean including its recent vessel deployment in Hambantota Port, Sri Lanka.
- Cost and Time Overruns: The Navy suffers from cost and time overruns throughout most production projects, for example, INS Vikramaditya was inducted into service more than 10 years after it was purchased.
- Outdated Submarines: A submarine fleet is considered indispensable to support the Navy's aircraft carriers, among other duties.
- Currently, the Navy employs 15 conventional submarines, each of which requires breaking surfaces to charge its batteries, making them prone to detection every time they are launched.
What are the Related Initiatives Towards Expanding India’s Defence Infrastructure?
What Should be the Way Forward?
- Technological Advancement: Development of core military technologies indigenously will significantly enhance naval capabilities.
- Although the Indian Navy possesses design capabilities and to some extent the production base, considerable performance enhancements are required like:
- Collaborative Approach Towards Self Reliance: The entire industrial might of the country, whether it is the public sector, the Defence Public Sector Units (DPSUs), the large private industries or Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs), needs to partner to achieve the goal of self reliance of the Indian Navy.
- Aside from providing technical expertise and sharing their extensive manufacturing experience, they should also be considered as equal stakeholders in the development of world-class defence infrastructure to serve the needs of Indian Navy's in order to make the concept of Self Reliance and proposed indigenous capability a reality.
- Combat Readiness: Commitment to self-reliance through indigenous development, is a subject of the larger goal of combat readiness.
- To remain combat-ready until indigenous equipment is available, we must continue the acquisition programme to meet our current operational needs.
- Tapping the World Defence Market: There is also a need to give adequate attention to the promotion of exports of Indian Defence products.
- Export authorisation procedures should be simplified and streamlined through an online mechanism with targeted outreach programmes.
- Improving Shipyard Infrastructure: While we have produced quality warships and aircraft carriers, our shipyards need to constantly strive to transform with the aim to achieve global standards in quality, productivity and build periods, so that we get the maximum output value and there is no need to look overseas.
- Guarding for a Peaceful Indian Ocean: With a multilateral, multipronged approach to preserve and enhance its strategic interests in the Indian Ocean and to shape the strategic environment, India is establishing itself as a global maritime power with firm belief of facing regional challenges and becoming a guarantor of regional peace and stability.
Drishti Mains Question
While the Absorption of Indigenisation has matured in Indian Navy, a large gap still exists in the development of critical technologies. Critically Analyse.