India has started talks with the UK over its plans to build a copycat version of the British Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Mirror reported on Sunday.
The Indians are said to be mulling the purchase of detailed plans for the 65,000-tonne warship and construct a new version, INS Vishal in 2022.
According to the report, an Indian delegation has already visited the birthplace of the HMS Queen Elizabeth – Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland, which is also where the second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft, HMS Prince of Wales, is now being assembled.
“Discussions have begun with India. The design can be modified to meet Indian Navy and local industry requirements”, a spokeswoman for BAE Systems, a British aerospace giant that owns the design for UK aircraft carriers along with the French concern Thales Group, said.
If a deal is sealed, the new version of the warship would be built in India, although UK companies could supply many of the parts.
In the meantime, the Mirror reached UK Minister for Defence Procurement Stuart Andrew, who declined to provide any details on the alleged talks with India.
“We have regular discussions with India on a range of equipment and capability issues. It would be inappropriate to comment further”, Andrew told the newspaper.
In the event of a potential deal, the modified version of Britain’s largest warship would join India’s 45,000-tonne carrier INS Vikramaditya that was purchased from Russia in 2004 after years of negotiations, and the 40,000-tonne INS Vikrant, which is currently under construction in the Indian port city of Kochi.