India launches its first aircraft carrier, the INS Vikrant
First locally built carrier will help it project power farther into Asia-Pacific
India launched its first indigenous aircraft carrier yesterday, beating China to join an elite group of military powers that can design and build such massive warships.
Only the United States, Russia, Britain and France have the capability to build carriers of 40,000 tonnes and above. China operates a retrofitted carrier of Russian origin, and is still working on its first home-built carriers.
"We must continue the process of developing indigenous capability to secure our maritime interests," Defence Minister A.K. Antony said after his wife, Elizabeth, launched the 37,500 tonne INS Vikrant down the slipway into the water at a shipyard in Kochi, southern India. Additional fittings will take its tonnage to 40,000.
The US$3 billion (S$3.8 billion) vessel will be docked and fitted out for commissioning by 2018. Work on the carrier started in 2006, and the keel was laid three years later.