March 1st, 2009 09:40 EST
India Now Has its Own Aircraft Carrier
India kicked off its most ambitious warship building project on Saturday. It began the process of assembling its first indigenous aircraft carrier. This 40,000 ton carrier will also be India`s largest warship. Only three other countries have made warships of this size.
It`s a giant leap for a country, 80 per cent of whose military hardware is of foreign origin.
What is the big deal about India`s first aircraft carrier which will be built here at these docks? This will herald the arrival of India as an expeditionary power, capable of launching air strikes 8,000 nautical miles away from its shores. And all this muscle will be Swadeshi.
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta said, " Sixty more warships to be made in India over next 10 years. This will not be the last indigenous carrier. "
India`s very own carrier will be a floating airstrip, 260 metres long, 60 metres wide and as high as a 14-storeyed building. From its two take-off runways, it will be able to launch as many as 30 aircraft on the high seas, including MiG-29K fighters and the Light Combat Aircraft. Its 4 gas turbines will produce 80 MW of power, enough to light up a small city. It will need a crew of 1,600 and is expected to eventually cost about $3 billion before it is handed over to the Navy in 2014.
Call it the Lego block building approach. About 875 blocks of metal will be welded together into an aircraft carrier. The 400-odd blocks which have been built so far occupy two entire grounds at the Cochin Shipyards"
Ahead of the polls, putting his stamp on this carrier on his home turf is A K Antony`s last hurrah as Defence Minister. He also announced a major post-26/11 revamp of India`s coastal security
Six years down the line, India`s indigenous aircraft carrier could be a metaphor for national capability, perhaps the biggest brand ambassador for the made in India tag.