Inside Vikrant, India’s first indigenous airbase on high seas- The New Indian Express


Express News Service

KOCHI:  It is a floating city and, once operational, it will be the mainstay of India’s maritime defence. INS Vikrant, India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, is indeed a game changer. Ten days ahead of its induction, the Indian Navy and the Cochin Shipyard facilitated TNIE an opportunity to experience the jaw-dropping facilities and amazing technologies onboard the aircraft carrier.

“The indigenous aircraft carrier provides an airfield in the sea, facilitating to extend our air power beyond natural barriers,” said Lieutenant Commander Chaitanya Malhotra leading us through its meandering alleys and the maze of steel cabins.

The flight deck of INS Vikrant has an area equal to two and a half hockey fields which roughly translates into 12,500 sq m. There is a short runway and a long runway equipped with a ski-jump.

A red line demarcates the operational area and the technical area. Six helicopters and 12 fighter jets can be parked on the deck and the aircraft will be latched to hold it during rough weather. There are two elevators to move the jets into the hanger located below the deck.

“The long, flat deck facilitates short takeoff and arrested landing of aircraft. There is a set of 3 arrester wires for recovery of landing jets onboard,” said Lieutenant Skanda.

Below deck on the carrier is a maze of cabins and corridors that descend 10 levels, leading to a miniature city that includes a hospital, a canteen with a modern kitchen, recreation facility, fitness centre, living quarters, fire station, laundry, a desalination plant and RO plant to provide drinking water.

Vikrant has a damage control headquarters that receives signals from 3,000 fire sensors and 700 flood sensors.

“The monitoring system has been developed by BHEL and it will alert us in case of a fire or flooding,” said Lieutenant Commander Akhil who heads the wing.

INS Vikrant

There is an integrated platform management system which can start and stop any equipment onboard, including power generation and propulsion.

 “The ship has a complex optical cable network which is 2,600km long. The platform gives us the facility to switch on the engine which is located 100m away, from the bridge itself. The ship produces 4 lakh litres of fresh water from the RO plant. The power generated by the ship can light up a small town,” said Malhotra.

The flight deck has 270 lights that guide fighter jets and helicopters during the night landings. It is powered by a 380-watt system.

The 64-slice CT scan facility on
board INS Vikrant

The medical complex is spread over 45 compartments running through three decks. There are five medical officers and 15 medical sailors. There is a 64-slice CT scan centre, a dental centre, two operation theatres, X-ray, ultrasound scanning facility, laboratory, blood transfusion and physiotherapy department.

“There is a 16-bed ward and we have an anaesthetist and a surgeon,” he said.

Though the officers were vociferous about its general features of Vikrant, they were tight-lipped on the weaponry.

Features

INS Vikrant is named after its illustrious predecessor which played a vital role in the 1971 war.

Special cabins for women officers

Speed factor

  • Top speed: 28 knots.

  • Cruising speed: 18 knots.

  • Endurance: 7,500 nautical miles.

  • Can operate 30 aircraft.

  • MIG 29K, LCA Navy, Kamov 31.

  • MH-60R multirole helicopters.

  • Advanced Light Helicopters.

  • Warship-grade steel is produced through a partnership between the Navy, DRDO and Steel Authority of India.

  • 21,500 tonnes of special grade steel used for construction.

Sea trials: August 2021-July 2022.

Dates to remember



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