CONTEXT: The much-awaited sea trials of the country’s maiden indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-1), built by the public sector Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL), began.
- The 40,000-tonne behemoth, whose keel-laying was done in 2009, is expected to join the Navy as INS Vikrant late next year.
- Its induction will give a fillip to the ‘sea control’ capabilities of the Navy in the Indian Ocean Region, a theatre of growing geostrategic competition.
- The Navy at present operates one aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya.
- The carrier construction project was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 2002 and the contract for the first phase of construction was signed with the CSL in 2007.
- The IAC is equipped with numerous high-end technologies, including network-centric distributed data processing and control systems, and state-of-the-art weapons such as the Barak LR-SAM (long-range surface to air missile) and sensors.
- It can carry about 30 assorted aircraft, including fighter jets and helicopters.
- It is capable of a top speed of 28 knots and a cruising speed of 18 knots with an endurance of 7,500 nauticalmiles.
- The ship, which is 262 m long, has over 2,300 compartments and is designed to have a complement of about 1,700 people with specialised cabins to accommodate women officers.