The Indian navy was the first country in Asia to start using an Aircraft Carrier after World War II. In 1961, it acquired the British warship HMS Hermes for the Indian navy. Rechristened INS Vikrant the aircraft carrier was instrumental in Indian forces defeating the Pak army in East Pakistan and establishing an independent Bengali speaking country in 1971. Subsequently, the Vikrant was retired and now two more aircraft carriers have been inducted. The navy, citing the Chinese threat, has put up a proposal to acquire a third aircraft carrier, as the indigenous aircraft carrier being built at the Cochin shipyard is likely to take a few years more.

India Today has reported that the proposal costing 1.6 billion dollars is with the Ministry of Defence.

Three aircraft carriers

The navy wants ideally two aircraft carriers, one for its Eastern fleet, operating in the Bay of Bengal and another for the western fleet that covers the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. It has projected a third aircraft carrier as a reserve in case any of the other two carriers have to go in for repairs. The Navy will also require 57 carrier-borne aircraft and top of the line under consideration are the American F-16 and the French Rafale. The Defense Ministry is sitting on the proposal because of the cost involved.

Indian Navy's flagship is the Vikramaditya, 44000 aircraft carrier which was purchased from Russia.It's pretty small compared to the American carriers of the Nimitz class, which displaced over 100,000 tons, but it is more than a match for the two Chinese carriers.

India vs China

The Indian navy has an advantage over China's navy in terms of the operation of aircraft carriers. India has been operating these floating attack airfield for over 56 years and the Chinese are still learning the first steps of carrier operations. None of their two carriers are fully operational as yet. India is the only country in the world after the USA to operate two operational aircraft carriers.

The Vikramaditya took part along with the Navy of the USA and Japan in a massive exercise in the Indian Ocean a few months back.


The Indian Defense Review has written that India is the largest importer of arms in the world.One reason for this is that military industry and manufacturing of weapons were not given any priority by the first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and this resulted in the Indian armed forces being poorly equipped, leading to crushing defeat at the hands of China in 1962. The Indian government is now better prepared and the chance that the third aircraft will be purchased is high on the cards.