Size Matters – Naval power will determine India’s military capability. And bigger aircraft carriers are vital

Source: The post is based on the article “Size Matters – Naval power will determine India’s military capability. And bigger aircraft carriers are vital” published in The Times of India on 5th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS – 3 – Security challenges and their management in the border areas.

Relevance: About the procurement of IAC-2.

News: Recently, India’s navy chief Admiral has said that India’s second indigenous aircraft carrier could be a repeat order of the recently commissioned IAC-1 or INS Vikrant.

What is the importance of the Admiral’s statement?

This means that the proposed IAC-2 would most likely not be the 65,000-tonne carrier that was initially planned and will be around the sub-45,000-tonne range. This has ramifications for the Indian ambition to have a blue water navy and obtain deep-strike capabilities.

The tonne reduction highlights budgetary constraints such as increased social welfare programmes and the armed forces huge salary and pension bills.

What are the implications of reducing the IAC-2 capacity?

The bigger the carrier the more equipment and offensive platforms – fighter jets and attack helicopters – it can be packed with. For example, the 40,000-tonne IAC-1 can carry about 35 aircraft. A 65,000-tonne carrier can carry almost 50 aircraft.

China’s indigenous aircraft carriers, Shandong and Fujian, are both above 60,000-tonnes.

How to improve India’s critical military platforms?

Given the maritime challenge in the Indian Ocean Region from China India need to improve its critical military platforms. This can be done by

-India’s economy needs to grow faster if it is to meet its strategic military needs.

Focussing on the serious naval components: For instance, having heavy-load aircraft carriers in the 60,000-tonne category is a vital part of critical military reorientation.

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