India’s indigenous aircraft carrier setting sail for sea trials is a historic moment

Source: Indian Express, Time of India 


The onset of sea trials of INS Vikrant marks a historic moment for the Indian Navy, which till now had aircraft carriers, but none built at home. The brand-new INS Vikrant is 75% indigenous and is the first big-ticket example of Atmanirbhar India.


  • August 4, 2021, marked a milestone in India’s ambition to become self-reliant in defence production. 
  • The first indigenous aircraft carrier began its sea trials. It’s expected to be commissioned in a year as INS Vikrant. 
  • It makes India only the seventh nation to develop the capacity to indigenous design and build a carrier. The other six include the US, UK, Spain, Russia, France, and China.

About INS Vikrant

Analysing the degree of Self Reliance in Defence Production:

  • A pathway to realize this goal was a policy transition in May 2001 to open up the defence industry to 100% private participation. Post this, 333 private companies have got industrial licences.
  • Success:
    • In 2020-21, about 63% of the Rs 1.39 lakh crore procurement budget went to domestic manufacturers. 
    • In relative terms, procurement from domestic sources has increased. HAL, for example, supplies 61% of the airborne fleet in use by defense services.
  • Concerns:
    • During the period 2001-20, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s database showed that India was the world’s largest importer of arms, at an aggregate value of $52.8 billion.
    • The huge import is a result of a shortage in capabilities for designing and developing major platforms. For instance, we ordered the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft from France and the S-400 Air Defense System from Russia.
    • Further, there is a lack of financial support to boost indigenous production. For instance, in 2020-21, By 2020-21, 61% of the defense budget was allocated for salaries and pensions and 19% towards buying arms.

Way Forward:

  • The government must soon finalise the modalities of the 15th Finance Commission’s suggestion on creating a non-lapsable defence fund. This is necessary to insulate defence spending from short-term fiscal pressures and enable the development of more indigenous carriers.
  • It needs to be complemented by a relatively closer engagement between Government and domestic manufacturers. Durable commitment by the government is desired to move up in the value chain of defence production.


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