The 2.3 billion dollar aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya was inducted into the Indian Navy on Saturday. Defense Minister AK Antony said that INS Vikramaditya would significantly enhance the reach and capability of the Indian Navy.
"India's economic development is dependent on the seas and safeguarding the nation's maritime interests is central to our national policy. Aircraft carriers have been part of the Indian Navy's force structure since our independence and have effectively served the country over the past five decades or so,' he said at the induction ceremony at the Sevmash Shipyard, Russia's nuclear submarine building centre here today.
"The induction of 'Vikramaditya' with its integral MiG29K fighters and Kamov-31 helicopters, not only reinforces this central policy, but also adds a new dimension to our Navy's operational capabilities. The meaning of 'Vikramaditya', which literally translates into "Strong as the Sun" is complemented by the Ship's motto -"Strike Far, Strike Sure," he added.
Antony also said that the event realizes the vision of capability-based transformation of the Indian Navy that was conceived more than a decade ago.
Calling it a Red Letter Day in the history of India- Russia cooperation, Antony said this relationship remains a matter of the highest priority for both nations for our mutual benefit, and as a factor of global peace and stability.
"The successful culmination of Project 11430 truly symbolizes the time-tested Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between our two great nations. The Project has propelled the strategic partnership between our nations to a new level," he said.
"The relationship between our two countries based on mutual trust and belief has withstood the test of time, and the result is for the entire world to see in the form of 'Vikramaditya'. As the ship sails into its home waters in the Indian Ocean Region, INS 'Vikramaditya' will be a befitting tribute to our long-standing relationship," he added.
He also said that it was a challenging task for both the Russian and the Indian sides, and congratulated the entire team for converting the 'Dream Project' into a reality.
"The transformation of INS 'Vikramaditya' is an engineering marvel, which has tested the professionalism, capability and perseverance of the Indian Navy and the Russian industry, especially the Sevmash Shipyard", he said and expressed confidence that all possible support would be extended by Russia to ensure that the ship serves India effectively and efficiently for the duration of its expected operational life cycle.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral DK Joshi said INS Vikramaditya will bridge the time-gap that may come up between the INS Viraat and the Indigenously built aircraft carrier Vikrant.
"It will also help achieving our medium term goal of operating two aircraft carriers,' he said.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said INS Vikramaditya symbolises the close friendship between India and Russia, and expressed confidence that it will grow in the coming years.
A large number of dignitaries including Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, Indian Ambassador to Russia Ajay Malhotra, Defence Secretary RK Mathur, DG Acquisition SB Agnihotri were present on the occasion.
The INS Vikramaditya is a Kiev class aircraft carrier that was commissioned by the Russian Navy in 1987 under the name, Baku. It was later renamed as Admiral Gorshkov and last sailed in 1995 in Russia, before being offered to India.
The 44,500-tonne warship with a length of 284 metres will have MiG-29K naval combat aircraft along with Kamov 31 and Kamov 28 anti-submarine warfare and maritime surveillance helicopters.
After years of negotiations, an agreement to hand over the ship to India was inked in 2004 after retrofitting.
The aircraft carrier will have more than 1,600 personnel on board, a complement of indigenously-built ALH Dhruv choppers and SeaKing helicopters, besides state-of-the art weaponry, including MiG-29K naval combat aircraft and Kamov 31 and Kamov 28 anti-submarine warfare and maritime surveillance helicopters.
Moscow, Nov.16 (ANI)
Russia delivers super aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya to India
Moscow: After almost a decade of negotiations and reconstruction, the super aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya formally joined the Indian Navy today at a ceremony attended by Defence Minister AK Antony and the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin at the Arctic port of Severodvinsk. By early next year, the warship will be out patrolling the Indian Ocean.
Here are the latest developments:
Officials lowered the Russian flag on INS Vikramaditya and raised the flag of the Indian Navy in its place. The wife of the ship's new captain, Suraj Berry, broke a coconut against its side at the handover ceremony, news agency AFP reported.
Originally built as the Admiral Gorshkov in the Soviet Union, the super aircraft carrier has been refurbished. It weighs 40,000 tonnes and will be the biggest and heaviest ship to be operated by the Indian Navy.
India joins a select group of nations and the only one in the Indian Ocean region to operate two aircraft carriers at the same time. The only aircraft carrier currently in use - INS Viraat - is reaching the end of its useful service.
The new carrier joins the navy at a time when the Indian Ocean region is becoming a highly-militarised zone. Admiral Sekhar Sinha, Commander in Chief, Western Naval Command said, "A second carrier will immensely increase India's reach and ability to project force. We can now have a carrier each for the eastern and western seaboards of India."
Till now, India was policing the Indian Ocean region from the Gulf of Malacca in south-east Asia to the Gulf of Aden in the north with just the INS Viraat. The addition of the INS Vikramaditya to India's fighting fleet is widely being projected as a game changer.
India agreed to buy it in 2004 for $974 million. The cost kept shooting up. Russia delayed the delivery by over five years.
A fleet of warships will escort the INS Vikramaditya on its way from Russia to the Kochi naval yard. Once it reaches India, it is meant to be equipped with Israeli Barak missiles.
The INS Vikramaditya is 284 metres long and 60 metres high - that's about as high as a 20-storeyed building. It can carry 24 MiG-29 fighter jets and 10 helicopters at a time, and can sail nearly 1300 kilometres a day.
The warship can operate for 45 days without replenishment and will be manned by about 1600 people. Just the crew is expected to use over one lakh eggs, 200,000 litres of milk and over 16 tonnes of rice every month.
India is also building its first indigenous aircraft carrier, the INS Vikrant, in Kochi, which is expected to join the navy in 2018-19.
Cheat Sheet | Edited by Nadim Asrar (with agency inputs) | Updated: November 16, 2013 14:53 IST