Should India build more 40,000 ton Vikrant Class Carrier
The Cochin shipyard who builds the INS Vikrant carrier, looking to build more such ships to keep the shipyard busy for next five years. The larger shipyard who can capable to build more than 40,000 tons and 900 feet medium air craft carrier, now building small warships. Cochin shipyard earlier asked the Defense ministry to allow them to build more Vikrant carriers.
As of now Indian Navy has one fully operational STOBAR carrier INS Vikramaditya with 30 MiG 29 K fighters as main arm. The other ship INS Viraat almost out of action and could not be used in battles, INS Vikrant on the other is almost in final touch ups and yet to attain carrier trails. The ship all set to commissioned into the Navy by 2018.
So afterwards 2018, India may get two operational aircraft carrier each armed with 30 MiG 29 K modern 4+ generation fighter jets. compared to the Vikramaditya the Vikrant is better in design and armaments support. The ship powered by the American engines and added with more number of Naval artillery guns. Vikrant is the first carrier who comes with four 76mm naval artillery guns.
Vikrant comes with state of art sensor and processing systems, the Carrier comes with European AESA based long range surveillance radar and the Israeli made Multi function AESA radar for both fire control and surveillance. The designer made smart move by splitting the MF STAR radar by two to reduce the clutters and blind side.
The addition of Barak PDMS and long range Barak 8 gives protection against all kind of incoming threats, such as sea skimming missiles and fighter jets. the defense system also include OFB made AK 630 30 mm cannons for close in weapon system support. The ship will carry two AK 630 Gatling guns.
The above mentioned unique features makes the Vikrant one of the most sophisticated conventional powered carrier in the world. So the Cochin shipyard proposes more such ships for Indian Navy. The navy didn't shown interests in the follow on Vikrant for only one reason, It's the STOBAR configuration. Who allows to take off only medium weight fighters, The STOBAR couldn't help the Fighter in the launch position unlike the CATOBAR or EMAL.
The CATOBAR carriers are more capable carriers than the STOBAR, catobar assists the fighter jet during the launch time by firing the fighter from it's deck, So the fighter jets can carry more weapons and looses very low amount of fuel compared to the STOBAR carrier. Both the carriers can assist the fighter when landing by using the arrestor wires.
India is not new to the CATOBAR, Earlier the Navy used the Sea Hawk fighters from the INS Vikrant carrier, The carrier is 20,000 Ton weight and 700 feet length. It can carry 24 fighter jets. INS Vikrant decommissioned in 2005, after the Navy found there is no use of such carrier and it's wing in modern battle's.
Indian Navy already issued a RFP to build four LHD ships in India, each weighting more than 20,000 tons, Who were actually a helicopter carrier Amphibious assault ship. Many sources suggested Navy might buy the F 35 B VTOL version for LHD's fixed wing.
Navy already in plans to build a modern carrier with powerful propulsion and launching mechanism with American support. The INS Vishal comes with EMAL launching system and powered by nuclear propulsion, which can carry modern heavy fighter jets like F 18 E/F, Rafale M or the F 35 C. The carrier still on papers. INS Vishal becomes reality only in 2030.
So before 2020, Indian Navy may operate two STOBAR carriers and four VTOL/LHD carriers. Those six of them enough for defending the Indian coasts with dedicated carrier air wings. That's why Navy didn't look upon more Vikrant class carriers. One must understand the issue building and commissioning a vikarant class carrier costs more than $3 billions. Navy couldn't afford another $6 billions for two more Vikrant class carrier,
Navy already driving funds to Submarines and Helicopter procurement plans and ofcourse in the INS Vishal project too, Even if Cochin gets any export order of Vikarant derivatives, It can build the ship not the power plant, Radar and fighter aircraft's. which comes from foreign nations.