3rd aircraft carrier to be inducted by 2017: Antony

Defence Minister A K Antony has for the first time said on record that India would induct a third aircraft carrier by 2017 in addition to the Admiral Gorshkov and the indegenous Air Defence Ship (ADS). The minister said that the order for a third carrier to be built by Cochin Shipyard Ltd will be placed after construction of the ADS progresses "beyond a certain range".

"Induction of the third aircraft carrier is envisaged by 2017. At present, Cochin Shipyard Ltd, Kochi, is the only yard in the country that possesses the capability to undertake construction of such a ship," Antony said in a statement before the Rajya Sabha today. The Defence Minister was elaborating on the "action taken" on the recommendations of a parliamentary panel on defence.

While naval officers have for long stated that three aircraft carrier groups are essential to protect India's maritime interests, Antony has for the first time given a timeline for the induction of the additional carrier.

The Navy will get a refitted Admiral Gorshkov with its compliment of 16 MiG 29 K aircraft by 2010. The indigenous ADS will arrive only by 2014. India's sole carrier, INS Viraat, is scheduled for decommissioning in 2012.

Senior Navy officers said the order for the second carrier is likely to be placed around 2010, after the ADS has been launched from the Cochin Shipyard. "Once the ADS gets launched from the shipyard for further fittings, the order for the second carrier can be placed," an officer said.

With the induction of a second indigenous ship by 2017, the Indian Navy will for the first time operate three aircraft carriers. This would ensure the Navy has two operational carriers at any given point with the third one in for refits.

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