India wants to build nuclear-powered aircraft carriers
For the first time, India is designing and building its own aircraft carrier. In doing so, the South Asian nation is joining some elite company. Once the craft is finished, India will become one of only five countries in the world to complete this accomplishment.
“The Vikrant is scheduled to be delivered to the Indian Navy in 2018,” reported the website military.com. “The 40,000-ton Vikrant would allow India to join the U.S., Britain, France and Russia as the only nations to design and build a carrier independently.”
However, leaders in New Delhi already have more ambitious plans for another carrier that India intends to build after the Vikrant. As a follow-up, India wants to build its own nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, according to a number of media reports.
“The Indian Navy’s design bureau is favorably considering nuclear propulsion for the second, and possibly a third indigenous aircraft carrier,” the Indo-Asian News Service reported in December 2015.
Not only that, but India reportedly wants its future carriers to launch planes using high-tech electromagnetic catapults, according to military.com. India’s current aircraft carriers are equipped with a Russian-designed “ski jump” system that launches planes via an upward-sloping ramp.
“Two major systems under consideration are nuclear propulsion and the new generation aircraft launch system, EMALS [Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System],” said the Indo-Asian News Service. The U.S.-made electromagnetic catapults are being tested and are slated for use on the next generation of U.S. aircraft carriers.
“The Indian interest in the EMALS technology comes shortly after Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar visited the Nimitz-class carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower with U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter,” The National Interest magazine reported in December 2015. “India and the United States have drawn closer in recent years, with Washington now far more open to military cooperation with New Delhi.”
The two countries have set up a Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation, according to the Times of India.
Indian’s goal of strengthening its Navy extends to submarines as well. “The Indian Navy already has clearance to build six SSN (nuclear-propelled but not nuclear-armed) submarines,” the Indo-Asian News Service said. India’s activity reflects an ongoing military buildup in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, according to media reports.
“Asia’s spending on military hardware is quickening at a time of increasing focus over maritime territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas, as well as growing concern over China’s expanding military,” Voice of America reported in December 2015. “China, India, Australia and South Korea are the key buyers of submarines amid fears of potential maritime conflicts,” it added.