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Vikrant-class Indigenous Aircraft Carrier Design

In March 2004 Defence Minister George Fernandes said that the Indian navy would likely induct its first indigenously built aircraft carrier in 2011. Furthermore, by August 2004, both Defense News and Jane's Defence Weekly were reporting that the Indian Ministry of Defence had awarded a $30 million contract to Fincantieri's Naval Vessel Business Unit to help prepare the concept, design, and implementation plans for the vessel. The Italian company was awarded the contract over DCN International of France, who had originally won the contract for the design study in 1989, and Izac Construcciones Navales of Spain.

Fincantieri, through its Naval Vessel Business Unit, signed two contracts with the Indian shipyard of Cochin; the contracts relate to design and assistance during the construction of a new aircraft carrier, the "Air Defence Ship", for the Indian Navy. One of the most important players in the Indian shipbuilding industry, Cochin shipyard is active in the field of merchant and naval shipbuilding as well as ship conversions and repairs.

The first contract covered assessment of the entire ship's design and responsibility for "propulsion system integration" in addition to providing assistance to the shipyard during installation of the engines and during the successive phase of tests of integration and sea trials. During the development of the design a team of officers of the Indian Navy and engineering experts from Cochin shipyard would work in Italy together with Fincantieri technical staff at the headquarters of the Naval Vessel Business Unit.

The second contract regarded the supply of the engineering and detailed design of the ancillary propulsion systems and the ship's main plants. Again, Fincantieri would provide the shipyard with assistance while construction is in progress and during tests and trials. The two contracts were expected to cover approximately 2 years, although assistance would continue until the trials and delivery have taken place - scheduled to occur by the end of this decade.

As of 2004, the most recent design had SAMs in VLS (Vertical Launch System) cells mounted on sponsons on either beam - the port side is to the aft of the ship while the starboard sponson is to the fore of the ship. Four OTO Melera 76mm Super Rapid dual purpose guns are mounted symmetrically on sponsons along the flight deck- two on the fore section and two at the fantail (stern). Preliminary sensor fit appears to show a Top Plate 3D radar on the mainmast and a large 3D radar antennae of a yet undetermined type, along with the usual SATCOM and Electronic Warfare antennae.

This last design iteration showed much influence from the Italian Andrea Dorea Class carrier (currently known as the Cavour Class) in that there was much sloping of the superstructure and ship sides. Powered by four LM 2500 gas turbines, generating 80 MW of power driving 2 shafts, the ship would be able to achieve speeds in excess of 28 knots. Manned by a complement of 1,600 officers and men, she would have an endurance of 7,500-8,000 nautical miles, and the logistic endurance of 45 days. She would be the first warship to be built with quality steel, developed in India by DRDO and SAIL.

Its 2.5 acre flight deck would enable launch of fighter aircraft using ski-jump for take off and arrester wire for landing on an angled deck. The ship, displacing over 37,500 tons, would have two runways and a landing strip with three arrester wires. The ship has a length of 250 meters [not 252 m], maximum breadth of 60 meters [not 58m.] draft of 8.4m and a depth of 25.6m. With a 12 to 14 ski-jump, the carrier has a STOBAR (Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery) arrangement on an angled flight deck with 2 aircraft elevators - one before the island and one after. In the STOBAR arrangement, the aircraft lands on the angled-flight deck and is stopped by arrester wires.

This ship can carry a maximum of 30 aircraft and 17 of these can be accommodated in the hangar. The air group was projected to consist of at least 12 - and possibly 24 - combat aircraft like the MiG-29K, Sea Harrier and Naval light combat aircraft (LCA) along with 10 or so helicopters of the Sea King Mk.42 and/or the HAL Dhruv. Two Ka-31 helicopters would provide airborne early warning coverage.

The ship has a length of 260 meters and a maximum breadth of 60 meter. The ship is be propelled by two shafts, each coupled to two LM2500 gas turbines developing a total power of 80 MW, sufficient to attain speeds in excess of 28 knots. The ship has an endurance of around 8,000 NM and a complement of 1600. The ship has two take-off runways and a landing strip with three wires. It can carry a maximum of 30 aircraft with adequate hangarage capacity. The carrier is designed with a very high degree of automation for machinery operation, ship navigation and survivability.

The ship is constructed using high strength steel developed in-house with the help of DRDO and SAIL. Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR SAM) system with multi-function radar (MFR) and close-in weapon system (CIWS) is envisaged for the carrier. The ship would be equipped with the most modern C/D band early air warning radar, V/UHF tactical air navigational and direction finding systems. The carrier would also have jamming capabilities over the expected electro-magnetic (EM) environment, along with carrier control approach radars to aid air operations. Integration of all weapon systems onboard the carrier would be through an indigenous combat management system (CMS). The ship's integration with Navy's network-centric operations would provide force multiplication.

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Page last modified: 27-02-2014 18:51:02 ZULU