Friday, 15 November 2013

India’s First Indigenous Aircraft Carrier - INS Vikrant

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India’s first indigenously built Air Craft Carrier (Project -71) christened as INS Vikrant was launched at Cochin Shipyard Limited. With the launch, India joined the elite club of nations in the world capable of designing and constructing an Air Craft Carrier. The  keel of the ship was laid on February 28, 2009. The launching of the ship in four years time is a creditable achievement. INS Vikrant became the Country’s most prestigious and largest warship project.
Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), the Country’s premier shipbuilding yard has been mandated to build the indigenous Air Craft Carrier, for the Indian Navy. The basic design of the Air Craft Carrier was carried out by the Indian Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design (DND). The design was further developed into a detailed design by the design team of Cochin Shipyard Limited.
DND has successfully designed over 17 different classes of warships, to which around 90 ships have already been built within the country. Designing of the Vikrant, at almost 40,000 tonnes speaks of the maturing of the capabilities of DND and represents a feather in the cap of the designers particularly as it is the first aircraft carrier of its size in the world with some unique features such as Gas Turbine Propulsion
At the launch, marking the end of Phase- I of the project, the imposing ramp of the 37,500 tonne Short Take off but Assisted Recovery (STOBAR) Carrier boasted the indigenous design and build capabilities of the country. The ship has attained its designed length of about 260 m and is almost at its maximum breadth of 60 m. The main landing strip is ready. Over 80% of the structure, containing about 2300 compartments has been fabricated, over 75% has been erected, all the major machinery, such as the two LM2500 Gas Turbines developing a total power of 80 MW, the diesel alternators capable of producing about 24 MW and the main gear box have been fitted. Soon after Vikrant floated perfectly upright, she was launched out into the Ernakulam Channel in a pontoon assisted precision manoeuvre. Vikrant was moved out of the building dock to be positioned in the refitting dock where the next Phase of outfitting will be completed The Aircraft Carrier would carry a complement of mix of fixed wing and rotary aircrafts in its hanger.
The Aircraft Carrier is a mini floating city, with a flight deck area covering the size of two football fields. The length of cabling would be 2700 KM which, if laid end to end would stretch from Kochi to Delhi. The ship would have a complement of 1600 personnel.
Vikrant will be capable of operating an aircraft mix of the Russian MiG-29K and LCA (Navy) fighters being developed indigenously by HAL. Its helicopter component will include the Kamov 31 and the indigenously developed ALH helicopters. The ship’s ability to sense and control a large air space around it will be enabled by modern C/D band Early Air Warning Radar, V/UHF Tactical Air Navigational and Direction Finding systems, jamming capabilities over the expected Electro Magnetic (EM) environment and Carrier Control Approach Radars to aid air operations. Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR SAM) systems with Multi-Function Radar (MFR) and Close- In Weapon System (CIWS) will form the protective suite of the ship. All weapon systems onboard the carrier will be integrated through an indigenous Combat Management System (CMS), being manufactured by Tata Power systems. The ship’s integration with Navy’s Network Centric Operations will provide force multiplication.
The steel has come from SAIL’s plants in Rourkela in Orissa, Bokaro in Jharkandand Bhilai in Chattisgarh; the Main Switch Board, steering gear and water tight hatches have been manufactured by Larsen and Toubro in its plants in Mumbai and Talegaon; the high capacity air conditioning and refrigeration systems have been manufactured inKirloskar’s plants in Pune; most pumps have been supplied by Best and Crompton, Chennai; Bharat Heavy Engineering Limited (BHEL) is supplying the Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS); the massive gear box is supplied by Elecon in Gujarat; the tens of thousands of electrical cable is supplied by Nicco industries in Kolkata; Kolkata is also where the ship’s anchor chain cable is manufactured.

The launch marks the end of the first phase of the construction of the carrier with nearly 75% of the vessel structure, including the ski-jump, in place.  Vikrant will now enter the second phase of construction which will see the outfitting of the ship, fitment of various weapons and sensors, integration of the gigantic propulsion system and integration of the aircraft complex (with the assistance of M/s NDB of Russia). The ship will then undergo extensive trials before she is handed over to the Indian Navy by around 2016-17.
The Ship is designed to survive in the event of attack by nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
The project was fraught with many challenges right from the special steel used in construction to the fabrication and erection of the large blocks and lowering of the huge main equipment. These challenges were overcome by the innovative and creative workforce of CSL The shipyard has developed a number of weld procedures and introduced automation to ensure quality of welding and increase productivity. The yard has adopted techniques to increase production rates by going in for grand assembly of blocks and pre-outfitting to the extent possible.
            Cochin Shipyard today is the best performing shipyard in India. The Shipyard had built and delivered over 90 ships since its inception. The largest ship built in the Country has been constructed by CSL. In the last decade the company has built and exported over 40 ships to International owners.
            The indigenous Aircraft Carrier designed by DND is one of the most prestigious warship project of the Indian Navy. Indian Navy has now changed the status from buyer’s navy to a builder’s navy.

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