Facing a shortage of aircraft carriers as a means of remaining a dominant force in the Indian Ocean region, the Defense Ministry of India has indicated that the navy will soon receive a much-awaited 37,500-tonne aircraft, the nation's second aircraft carrier, as weapons trials have begun.
“Major milestone activities including starting of main propulsion machinery and trials of power generation machinery have been completed. Trials of other ship’s equipment and systems are presently in progress,” Shripad Naik, Minister of State for India’s Defence Ministry, informed the parliament on Monday.
The minister said that major structural and outfitting work of the as-yet-unnamed indigenous aircraft carrier under construction at the Cochin Shipyard Limited has been completed.
“We are almost certain that we will take delivery by February-March 2021. Once we take delivery, then we will get our aviation assets going to the trials that, I expect, will take a year or so. We should have a fully operational carrier by 2022,” Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh said in December 2019.
The deadline to deliver the aircraft carrier was originally 2018, and the Defence Ministry claimed that the delivery of aviation equipment from Russia is one of the causes of delay in delivery.
The development came in the backdrop of a persistent demand by the navy to have three aircraft carriers, amid a growing presence of Chinese warships and submarines in the Indian Ocean region. Currently, the Indian Navy is operating a lone aircraft carrier: the Russian-built INS Vikramaditya.
In the recent past, the Indian Ocean has been a hotbed of maritime military strength, as France, India, Italy, the US, and the UK have deployed carriers in the region.
The Indian Navy claims that at least six to seven Chinese warships, including submarines, are in the region at any given time, also adding that China will deploy its aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean.