New Delhi: The need for a third aircraft carrier for the Indian Navy is likely to be on the top of the agenda of next Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting scheduled to take place next month, media reports said.
The carrier project has recently cleared the Defence Procurement Board (DPB), which is headed by the defence secretary and includes the three vice chiefs. The Rs 40,000 crore project is largely indigenous and will be a big boon for the shipbuilding industry in India.
The Navy currently has two aircraft carriers— the INS Vikramaditya (formerly the Russian Admiral Gorshkov) and the INS Vikrant, which was indigenously made. But keeping in mind the Chinese pressure in the Indian Ocean Region, the Navy is looking at a larger force. Three carriers also ensure that the Navy has two carriers at all times — one for the Arabian Sea and the other for the Bay of Bengal. If this project does go through the DAC and gets cabinet clearance, the carrier will be with the Navy in 7-10 years. It should be about 65-70,000 tonne carriers and will be built at the Cochin Shipyard. It is likely to carry over 50 warplanes.
There had been opposition to the carrier. In the past, the late General Bipin Rawat, India’s first chief of defence staff, had reservations. The carrier apart, the MRMR project, also a big issue with the Navy and also, the Coast Guard, will not be fielded in the coming DAC meeting. The Navy wants nine medium range maritime reconnaissance aircraft and the Coast Guard, six. It may get to the DAC subsequently.