India without aircraft carrier for 8 months

India without aircraft carrier for 8 months

NEW DELHI: India thinks of itself as an emerging superpower but does not have a single operational


INS Viraat sets sail for the last time

MUMBAI: India's majestic aircraft carrier INS Viraat, which is slated to be decommissioned later this year, set sail for the last time from Mumbai for Kochi Saturday afternoon.

This is the last sailing under her own propulsion before the iconic naval vessel goes for decommissioning. The ship set sail for Essential Repairs and Dry Docking (ERDD) at the Cochin Shipyard.

Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command and other senior officers of the command, visited the ship and interacted with the crew prior to her departure.

The carrier was escorted out of harbour by Fast Interceptor Craft and helicopters from the Western Naval Command.

"It was an emotional moment for the Navy, as INS Viraat leaves Naval Dockyard Mumbai, for one last time under own power. The ship will be towed back to Mumbai on completion of ERDD, for the decommissioning ceremony later this year," a defence spokesperson said.

INS Viraat was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 12 May 1987. The ship operated Sea Harrier (White Tigers - fighter aircraft), Seaking 42B (Harpoons - Anti Submarine helicopters) & Seaking 42C (Commando Carrier helicopters) and Chetak (Angles - SAR helicopter) as her main air elements. The Sea Harrier fleet was also recently decommissioned at Goa in May 2016.

Under the Indian Flag, various aircraft have flown more than 22,034 hours from the decks of INS Viraat. She has spent nearly 2,250 days at sea sailing 5,88,288 NM (10,94,215 km).

This implies that Viraat has been at sea for over six years covering the entire globe about 27 times. She played a major role in the Operation Jupiter in 1989 (Indian Peace Keeping operations in Sri Lanka) and Operation Vijay in the year 1999 (Kargil War). The ship has also participated in various international joint exercises like Malabar (with US Navy), Varuna (with French Navy), Naseem-Al-Bahar (with Oman Navy) and has been an integral element of all major naval exercises, the spokesperson added.

aircraft carrier+ as of now. Its solitary aircraft carrier,


Accident on aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, 2 killed


  1. A gas leak occurred in the lower decks of aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya
  2. Two persons have been killed - a sailor and a civilian worker
  3. The INS Vikramaditya was undergoing its first refit in Karwar.
NEW DELHI: A sailor and a civilian worker were killed on Friday in an accident on board the country's largest warship, the 45,400-tonne INS Vikramaditya, which is currently undergoing a refit at the Karwar naval base in Karnataka.

The accident took place at about 5 pm when a team of workers were replacing a pipe in the sewage treatment plant located among the lowermost compartments of the 20-storey tall aircraft carrier.

"The workers were trying to repair the leakage of sewage water and Hydrogen Sulphide fumes. Due to inhalation of toxic fumes, four personnel fell unconscious," said an officer.

Two of them, identified as shipwright artificer Rakesh Kumar and Mohandas Kolambkar, an employee of M/s Royal Marine, succumbed at the naval hospital in Karwar, while the other two are in a stable condition. The Navy has ordered an inquiry into the incident, and action has been taken to render the compartment and area on the ship safe and secure, said the officer.

This is the first major refit-and-repair of INS Vikramaditya, or the refurbished Admiral Gorshkov that was inducted in November 2013 under a $2.33 billion deal with Russia. With the 45 MiG-29Ks ordered for another $2 billion to operate from its deck, the aircraft carrier is the costliest single weapons platform the country has ever bought.

The Navy has been hit by a string of accidents over the last three to four years, with Admiral DK Joshi even resigning as the Navy chief in February 2014 after a mishap on board Kilo-class submarine INS Sindhuratna, which killed two officers and injured several others.

The INS Sindhuratna accident had come after another submarine, INS Sindhurakshak, had sunk at the Mumbai dockyard after several internal explosions in August 2013, which had killed three officers and 15 sailors.

While the Navy had sacked several warship captains after the mishaps, as also directed all personnel to strictly adhere to safety guidelines, it is also true that several factors have come together to create such a situation in the blue-water force.

Delays in clearing new projects and emergency purchases is making the Navy flog ageing warships well beyond their operational lives. At least 10 of the 13 diesel-electric submarines in the force at present, for instance, are over 25 years old.

Refits and maintenance of the old warships also remains quite poor due to lack of proper infrastructure and management at dockyards and shipyards. "Moreover, with pressure from the top, many technical and safety corners are cut to ensure adequate operational force-levels.

There is, for instance, laxity in conducting water-tight integrity and citadel tests," said an officer.

INS Vikramaditya+ , will be ready for action only after eight months due its ongoing maintenance refit.

More alarmingly, the 44,570-tonne


No safety gear for workers on INS Vikramaditya, say family of victim

Karwar: A day after two men died in an accident aboard aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, relatives of the one of the deceased alleged that the workers were not given safety gear.

Heated arguments broke out at the district hospital in Karwar on Saturday between officials of the Royal Marine Company and relatives and friends of Mohanadas Kolambkar who was killed on board INS Vikramaditya on Friday night after inhalation of toxic fumes while repairing the sewage treatment plant in the warship.

The body of Moahanadas and Rakesh Kumar, a sailor, who, too, died in the same accident was brought to the district hospital in Karwar on Saturday for postmortem. Officials of the Royal Marine Company (RMC) accompanied the bodies.

Family and friends of Mohanadas had gathered in large numbers at the hospital. When the body was brought to the hospital, they accosted employees of RMC and questioned why Mohanadas was made to work in the STP allegedly without any safety gear.

Employees of the RMC said that the company was not responsible for the death of Mohanadas as it was caused by toxic gas released in the warship belonging to the Indian Navy. The company officials also expressed their helplessness at announcing a compensation for Mohanadas's family as he had worked for only three days with them.

Enraged at this, family members and friends demanded that the postmortem be conducted by a forensic expert. Police pacified the family of the deceased and the postmortem was conducted by the doctor at the district hospital. Family members of Rakesh Kumar informed the Navy that they would not be able to come to Karwar to take his body. It will be shipped to Goa.

Troubled relations with locals

Locals allege that Friday's incident is the result of an unholy nexus between officials and contractors who are exploiting local youths. Umakant Harikantra, president of Seabird Evacuee Fishermen Association, alleged that the salary of the daily wage workers (mostly local youths) is shown as Rs 9,000 per month on paper while contractors given them only Rs 4,000. "We have had several protests against this discrimination in the past," he added.

Mohanadas hailed from a poor family and his elder brother is working in the Navy police in Mumbai. Mohanadas completed his ITI (electrical) in Karwar and was working as a lift technician in Goa. He returned to Karwar 10 days ago.

Neighbours of Mohanadas said that while joining work he was told by his employer that he has to work as a technician. He, however, had no idea of cleaning a sewage treatment plant in a war ship. A family member claimed that Mohandas went into the STP without a mask, headgear and oxygen cylinder. "It is shocking that India's largest aircraft carrier could not provide first aid to the injured immediately. They were shifted to INS Patanajali hospital about 2 km from the harbor," said Madhav Nayak, president of Jilla Janashakthi Vedike.

Navy officials refused to comment and said that Navy headquarter in New Delhi would react to the accident.

INS Vikramaditya+ will in all probability have to soldier on alone for the next six-seven years. In its report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, the CAG said the already long-delayed 40,000-tonne indigenous aircraft carrier,


aircraft carrier INS Vikrant will be delivered to Navy on time: Cochin Shipyard chief

KOLKATA: India's first indigenously-built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is well on schedule and should be delivered on time to the Indian Navy, Commodore (retd) Kartik Subramaniam, chairman & managing director, Cochin Shipyard, said in Kolkata on Thursday. He was attending the commissioning ceremony of the ICGS Anmol, a Fast Patrol Vessel (FBV) built by the shipyard in Kochi. This ship was delivered to the Coast Guard 19 days ahead of schedule.

"It was a proud moment when the INS Vikrant was undocked. Shipbuilding is basically teamwork. We succeed in delivering ships on time due to support from all our associates. Nearly 98 per cent of the work on the hull of INS Vikrant has been completed. Work is now underway on the flight deck. Things are on schedule and we hope to deliver the ship to the Navy on time," Subramaniam said.

The 40,000 tonne carrier is expected to be commissioned to the Navy in 2017. It was undocked for the first time in June this year and launched in August. It is expected to undergo extensive sea trials in 2016. One of the most important factors about this ship is that it is being constructed almost entirely with indigenous steel, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and made by SAIL. The high quality steel for its flight deck was built by the Alloy Steel Plant (ASP) in Durgapur.

"This is a major point. When the carrier was planned we wanted to import steel from Russia but they started making demands that we could not meet. This is when it was decided to develop the steel indigenously and we actually succeeded. This was a major step towards indigenization and goes to show that we can achieve a lot by ourselves. Even private players are now joining the fray. The steel for the ICGS Anmol was supplied by Essar. The concept of indigenisation is now opening up new avenues for industry," the CMD told TOI.

Basically, three kinds of steel are being used to build the aircraft carrier. One is the DMR 249 Grade A that went towards making the hull and other parts of the infrastructure. DMR 249 Grade B, developed by ASP, is being used for the flight deck. This steel has spring back qualities. Another variety of steel that is being used for the machine room is DMR 249 Grade AZ25. This steel has compressibility of well beyond 25 per cent that is required to handle the heavy load that the machine room will undergo.

The flight deck of INS Vikrant can carry 19 aircraft while the hangers inside will have the capacity for 17 more fighters. The aircraft carrier will have two take-off runways and a landing strip with three arrester wires, capable of operating STOBAR aircraft including the Mig-29K and indigenous LCA, as well as a range of helicopters.

INS Vikrant+ , will be ready only by 2023 as per its constructor


Govt approves Rs 1,799-crore new dry dock at Cochin Shipyard

New Delhi, Jul 20 () To augment the shipbuilding and repair capacity of the country, the government today approved construction of a new dry dock at Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) at a cost of Rs 1,799 crore.

"The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval for construction of a new dry dock within the existing premises of CSL at an estimated cost of Rs 1,799 crore to augment the shipbuilding/ repair capacity of the country," an official statement said.

The objective is to augment the shipbuilding/ ship repair capacity essentially required to tap the market potential of building specialised and technologically advanced large vessels such as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) vessels, Indigenous aircraft carriers of higher capacity, Jack up Rigs, Drill ships, large Dredgers and repairing of offshore platforms and larger vessels, the statement from the Ministry of Shipping said.

This big sized dry dock is a critical requirement of CSL to promote ship building and is a step in the direction of "Make in India" initiative of the government, it said.

"There would be no financial outgo from the government on account of the construction of new dry dock as the expenditure of Rs 1,799 crore will be funded through Internal and Extra Budgetary resources (IEBR) of CSL and the funding requirements are fully tied up," the statement said.

The project proposal would generate employment within the country, it said.

Ship building and ship repair is a labour intensive industry, having a multiplier effect on employment generation and thereby help in the process of nation-building by way of socio-economic development and growth of manufacturing sector in the country, it added.

Apart from direct employment of 300 personnel, about 2,000 personnel would be indirectly employed when the project becomes fully operational, the statement said. NAM MKJ
Cochin Shipyard+ .

Nothing projects raw combat power like an aircraft carrier prowling on the high seas, ready to unleash its fighter jets and missiles against any adversary. So, whenever the US launches a military strike, or flies the flag against a


China announces South China Sea military exercises

BEIJING: China says it is closing off a part of the South China Sea for military exercises this week, days after the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against Beijing's claim to ownership of virtually the entire strategic waterway.

The maritime administration of Hainan province said on Monday that an area south-east of the island would be closed until Thursday but gave no details about the nature of the exercises.

China rejected the tribunal's ruling in the case initiated by the Philippines and refused to take part in the arbitration. The tribunal ruled that China violated international maritime law by building up artificial islands that destroyed coral reefs and by disrupting fishing and oil exploration.

Six governments in all claim territory in the South China Sea.

belligerent China+ in the


Hague tribunal ruling on South China Sea is final, legally binding: Japan Foreign Minister

TOKYO: The Hague tribunal ruling on the South China Sea is final and legally binding, and the parties to the case are required to comply, Japan said on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said in a statement that Japan has consistently advocated the importance of the rule of law and the use of peaceful means, not the use of force or coercion, in seeking settlement of maritime disputes.

South China Sea+ , it turns to its 10 Nimitz-class nuclear-powered "super-carriers" deployed around the globe. China, too, visualises aircraft carriers as "symbols of a great nation".

India, however, continues to flounder in first formulating and then executing longterm strategic plans in tune with its geopolitical aspirations. The Navy for long has been demanding three aircraft carriers, one each for the western and eastern sea-boards, with the third being under refit at any given time. But the CAG report, with a detailed critique of the shoddy planning and project execution in INS Vikrant's construction, junks the notion of even a two-carrier force till 2023.

Moreover, the report says the MiG-29K fleet - India ordered 45 fighters from Russia for $2 billion for INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant - is "riddled with problems" due to defects in the fighter airframes, RD-33 MK engines and fly-by-wire systems. Consequently, the serviceability or operational availability of MiG-29Ks is pathetic - ranging from just 15.93 per cent to 37.63 per cent.

The Navy, however, is quite confident of getting INS Vikrant, which was first approved in May 1999 with its construction beginning in November 2006, by December 2018. "INS Vikrant will not have its Russian aviation complex (aviation armaments, mobile systems, arresting gear, hydraulic stations and other equipment) and the Barak-8 long-range surface-to-air missile systems by then. But we are planning sea trials from 2018 onwards," said a senior officer.
Even if the carrier is delivered by 2018-2019, it will not be able to operate MiG-29Ks from its deck without the aviation complex, nor be able to effectively protect itself without the


India tests Surface-To-air missile system developed jointly with Israel

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday took a major step towards plugging some gaping holes in its air defence coverage with the maiden test of a new surface-to-air missile (SAM) system designed to detect, track and destroy hostile aircraft, missiles, helicopters and drones at a range of 70km.

The medium-range SAM system, jointly developed by DRDO and Israeli Aerospace Industries, was tested twice against a Britishorigin target drone 'Banshee' at the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur-on-sea off the coast of Odisha. The MR-SAM systems with their MF-STARs (multifunction surveillance and threat alert radars) as well as weapon control systems with data links are designed to neutralise multiple targets simultaneously.

IAF will begin inducting an initial nine squadrons of this land-based MR-SAM — at a cost of Rs 10,076 crore — from 2017-18 onwards. "During the two tests on Thursday, first at 8.15am and then at 3.45pm, the interceptor missiles directly hit the manoeuvring target drones (mimicking enemy aircraft),
destroying them. All mission objectives were met successfully," Dr G Satheesh Reddy, scientific advisor to the defence minister, told TOI.

While two "profiles" at different altitudes in the flight envelope were tested on Thursday, the MR-SAM will require a few more tests before its production can kick off next year. While Israel calls the system Barak-8, India is yet to officially name it. The Navy, incidentally, has already equipped three of its latest Kolkata-class destroyers with the warship-based version of the MRSAM.

The all-weather air defence system, which is being produced by defence PSU Bharat Dynamics (BDL), has also been earmarked for another 12 under-construction warships, including the 40,000-tonne aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. There are, however, some concerns over its high cost, with each MR-SAM system for a warship estimated to cost over Rs 1,200 crore. This has also led to the initial army order for one MR-SAM regiment or group, pegged at Rs 14,000 crore, to be stuck in the final clearance stage for well over a year now, as was first reported by TOI.

Barak-8 missile system+ .
As was first reported by TOI, defence minister Manohar Parrikar has put further orders for the Barak-8 systems designed by


India wary of cost of joint ventures with Israel


  • defence minister has red-flagged the “high costs” involved in production of Barak-8 by Israel, sources said
  • However, India plans to further expand its strategic ties with Israel through more R&D projects
NEW DELHI: India plans to further expand its strategic ties with Israel through more R&D projects to develop hi-tech weapon systems, as also clinch several deals in the pipeline, but has expressed concern over the exorbitant costs involved in deploying a jointly-developed surface-to-air missile system on frontline Indian warships.

Sources said this came through in the 12th meeting of the high-powered joint working group between the two countries, co-chaired by defence secretary G Mohan Kumar and director general of Israeli defence ministry Major General Udi Adam (retd), which was held in New Delhi on July 13.

Though there has been no official word on the JWG meeting, sources said defence minister Manohar Parrikar has red-flagged the "high costs" involved in production of the medium-range surface-to-air missile (MR-SAM) systems called


by Israel.

First, there was a huge delay by DRDO-Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) joint venture to develop and test the MR-SAM systems, which are to be produced in bulk by defence PSU Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL). Now, the projected costs in deploying them have also raised eyebrows.

As earlier reported by TOI, while the naval MR-SAM project was sanctioned by the Cabinet Committee on Security in December 2005 at an initial cost of Rs 2,606 crore, the IAF one for nine squadrons worth Rs 10,076 crore was cleared in February 2009. While the naval system was tested for the first time in November 2014, the IAF one was tested thrice earlier this month.

With an over 70-km interception range against enemy aircraft, drones and missiles, the naval MR-SAM has already been fitted on the three new Kolkata-class destroyers. But each MR-SAM system is now projected to cost around Rs 1,200 crore for the 12 under-construction warships in Indian shipyards, including aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, four guided-missile destroyers and seven stealth frigates. "Consequently, the orders are on hold as of now. A review to cut costs is in progress," said a defence ministry source.

This has also led to the estimated Rs 14,000-crore Army project to acquire these MR-SAMs, which come with missiles, launchers, surveillance and threat tracking radars, and fire control systems, to be kept in abeyance till now.

The JWG also discussed probable joint R&D projects in fields like high-endurance UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), micro-satellite surveillance systems, armoured vehicles and different types of missiles and precision-guided munitions, said sources.

Then, there are several big-ticket deals in the pipeline. These include two more Israeli Phalcon AWACS (airborne warning and control systems), which are to be mounted on Russian IL-76 military aircraft, and four more Aerostat radars.

The IAF is also on course to acquire 164 laser-designation pods or 'Litening-4' for fighter jets like Sukhoi-30MKIs and Jaguars as well as 250 advanced 'Spice" precision stand-off bombs capable of taking out fortified enemy underground command centres.

The Army, in turn, is looking to acquire the Israeli third-generation Spike anti-tank guided missile systems, with an initial 321 launchers and 8,356 missiles, which too is making slow progress due to the high costs involved. The force is likely to go in for an initial two regiments of the Israeli Spyder quick-reaction SAM systems to defend its forward units for enemy air strikes.

DRDO-Israel Aerospace Industries+ , with an over 70-km interception range against incoming enemy aircraft, drones and missile, on hold due to the high costs involved.
The CAG, on its part, says, "There is contuing disagreement over project timelines between the Navy and Cochin Shipyard, with realistic dates for delivery yet to be worked out."

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