Air Defence Ship Evolution
A plan was announced in 1989 to replace the aging British-built carriers with two new 28,000 ton aircraft carriers.The first vessel was to replace the Vikrant, which was set to decommission in early 1997. A contract for a design study then was signed in 1989 with DCN (Direction des Constructions Navales) International (currently known as DCNS) of France for a vessel of about 25,000 tons and with a speed of 30 knots. Construction was to start at the Cochin Shipyard (CSL) in 1993 after the Indian Naval Design Organisation had translated this design study into a production model.
However, in 1991, the Committee on Defence Expenditure informed the Indian Navy to abandon plans for large aircraft carriers and shift the design effort to the Italian Garibaldi Class due to budgetary constraints. The Garibaldi was once the world's smallest aircraft carrier. The ship's flight deck is 174 meters in length and 30.5 metres in width, and the forward 15 meters of the flight deck rises to a gentle ski ramp of about 4 degrees. Garibaldi, with a full load displacement 13,370 tons, commissioned in 1985. The ship is a 10,000 ton standard displacement aircraft carrying cruiser capable of carrying 18 helicopters or an air squadron of vertical or short take off and landing (VSTOL) aircraft. The ship's crew is 550 officers and ratings plus 230 air staff. The ship has necessary the technical facilities for the employment of HARRIER II AV-8B PLUS aircrafts to provide antiaircraft and antiship capabilities at distances greater than the capacity of the current shipboard missiles.
In September 1993, then-incumbent Chief of Naval Staff - Admiral L. Ramdas - restated the commitment to have a large aircraft carrier ready for trials by 2000, yet no firm decision had been made to provide funds or begin construction.
As of 1995 the Indian-designed and Indian-built air-defense ship was proposed as a replacement for India's two aging British aircraft carriers. At that time the Air Defence Ship was projected as being a 17,000-ton vessel capable of carrying between twelve and fifteen aircraft. Although few design details emerged, the roughly 30 percent increase in displacement, from 13,370 tons to 17,000 tons, implied a roughly 10 percent increase in dimensions, suggesting a flight deck about 190 meters [620 feet in length and 33.5 meters [110 feet] in width.
This was refined in 1997 to a 24,000 ton Air Defence Ship of domestic construction, based on a design developed by the Direction des Constructions Naval, a French firm. However, the design was modified by the Naval Design Organisation to suit the India requirements. GE Marine Engines had a manufacturing and technical license assistance agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) for the assembly, inspection and test of marine LM 2500 gas turbines selected for Indian Navy Frigate and Air Defense Ship programs.
In May 1999 the Government approved the indigenous construction of an Air Defence Ship (ADS) of around 24,000 tons displacement. The vessel is the largest and broadest ship ever to built in India. Indian press reports of 11 April 2001 announced that the Indian Cabinet Committee on Security (CSS) approved the awarding of a construction contact to Cochin Shipyard for the construction of three Vikrant-class aircraft carriers -- based on a French design -- that would displace more than 30,000 tons. Another report stated that The 250-meter carrier would have a displacement of 32,000 tons which made it almost five times larger than the 6,700-ton INS Delhi, the largest and heaviest warship built in the country so far.
In 2001, CSL released a graphic showing the 32,000-ton STOBAR (Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery) design with a pronounced ski jump. The design of the island and sensor suite was considerably different from a model displayed at Def Expo '99.
In February 2002, current Chief of Naval Staff - Admiral Madhvendra Singh revealed that the 32,000-ton ADS design was 250 meters long, capable of speeds of 32 knots with a crew of 1500 personnel. On March 21, 2002 the Defence Minister Shri George Fernandes, in a written reply to Dr. (Shrimati) C. Suguna Kumari and Shri A. Narendra in Lok Sabha, stated that the Navy had reassessed their requirement and had proposed building a larger vessel displacing 37,500 tons and measuring 252 meters by almost 57 meters with a speed of 28 knots. It was probable that with a full load, the ADS will exceed 40,000 tons.
The misnomer ADS was adopted by the navy to ward off objections to the Navy going in for an aircraft carrier, especially by the IAF when the SU-30s were being acquired. In August 2006 the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash stated that the designation for the vessel had been changed from Air Defence Ship (ADS) to Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC).
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