Global shipbuilders and analysts were abuzz on Sunday after the British media reported that New Delhi had approached London to buy the detailed blueprints for the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth.
According to the “exclusive” report in Mirror, the plans will be used to build the Indian Navy’s second indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-2), which is called INS Vishal.
In fact, INS Vishal has remained stalled since 2017, with India’s ministry of defence (MoD) declining to accord financial clearance. The MoD believes the coming years’ defence budgets cannot cater for the exorbitant cost of an aircraft carrier.
INS Vishal was conceived as a 65,000 tonne aircraft carrier, embarking 55 aircraft and costing Rs 60,000 crore. After the MoD objected to the cost, the navy downsized the proposal to a 50,000-tonne carrier costing about Rs 50,000 crore. But the MoD remains unwilling to accord funding or sanction.
The Indian Navy has been talking to multiple prospective partners about providing design partnership for INS Vishal. Besides UK-headquartered BAE Systems and Thales, which built HMS Queen Elizabeth and are now working on a second carrier, HMS Prince of Wales; the Indian Navy also has a joint working group (JWG) with the US Pentagon for designing an aircraft carrier. In fact, the proposed design of INS Vishal bears a strong American signature, with advanced features like the “electro-magnetic aircraft launch system” (EMALS) that exists only on the latest US aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R Ford. (end of excerpt)
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