(Bloomberg) –India inducted a second domestically made aircraft carrier and the largest warship it has ever built into its naval fleet Friday, giving the South Asian nation a boost as the Indian Ocean gets more militarized.
Protecting the sea lanes of trade in the Indo-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions are a priority today and this will boost trade and the global economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a ceremony in the southern city of Kochi.
Modi inducted the 45,000-ton Indian Naval Ship Vikrant, which was twenty years in the making. The vessel will carry 30 aircraft and 1,700 sailors.
New Delhi is also considering plans to commission a third carrier to add to its naval capabilities.
“Carriers give countries the ability to exert influence by being present at faraway places continuously,” said retired Commodore Srikanth Kesnur, who teaches at the India’s Naval College in Goa. “It’s a much needed shot in the arm when Indo-Pacific is militarizing.”
There’s an estimated 125 foreign naval vessels in the Indian Ocean region at any given time, roughly three times the number deployed in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan.
The waters off India haven’t seen these many naval vessels together since World War II as both China and and the US and its allies deploy more warships in the area.
Reports to the US Congress suggest China is planning a six carrier navy. One report from the US Department of Defense has warned the “multi-carrier force” of the Chinese navy will have the capability strike beyond its “immediate periphery.”
The INS Vikrant will fly India’s recently purchased US-made MH-60R multi-role helicopters and share MIG-29K naval fighters with the other aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. India has about 40 MIG-29 K fighters.
India’s Navy is in the market for over two dozen deck-based fighters. Dassault and Boeing have both pitched their fighters.
© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.
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