India to soon have 40,000 tonne aircraft carrier

India is set to enter a rare global club with the manufacture of a 40,000-tonne aircraft carrier that can carry 30 fighters and helicopters.

A formal keel-laying ceremony is slated for the weekend, and the ship should join the navy in 2014.

India is the first Asian country and probably the fourth in the world to build such a large and complex warship. The others to have built aircraft carriers of this size or bigger in recent times are the United States, France and Russia.

"A ship of such complexity is being built in the country for the first time," a senior defence source said on the construction getting underway at the Cochin Shipyard Limited. He pointed out that there are several firsts to the efforts, including indigenously developed steel. The Steel Authority of India Limited will supply the steel, which makes up for 30% of the ship.

The ship's overall length is 260 meters, while the beam, width at the widest point, will be 60 meters. It will be taller than a 14-storey building.

India has only the INS Viraat aircraft carrier in service. Delivery of the Admiral Gorshkov, a carrier India is buying from Russia, has been delayed to 2012.

The indigenous aircraft carrier is being designed keeping in mind MiG-29K fighters — which are to be also placed on Admiral Gorshkov — as well as the naval version of the indigenous light combat aircraft. It will also have Kamov-31 helicopters aboard. Thirty aircraft can be on board at a point of time.

The fighters will take off from the carrier using a ski-jump rather than a catapult. Landing fighters will be brought to a stop using arresting wires.

According to the defence official, the ship will have a crew of about 1,600. The defence ministry has estimated the ship's construction to cost Rs3,260 crore, but it could be scaled up, officials said.

Josy Joseph/ DNA-Daily News & Analysis Source: 3D Syndication