India is poised to enhance its naval capabilities by adding an aircraft carrier worth nearly ₹400 billion ($4.8 billion) to counter China’s expanding naval influence in the Indian Ocean region. Sources familiar with the matter disclosed that the Defense Acquisition Council, led by Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, is anticipated to greenlight the acquisition of India’s second indigenous carrier, affirming the nation’s commitment to bolstering its maritime prowess.
The new aircraft carrier, designed to accommodate approximately 28 fighter jets and helicopters and displacing 45,000 tons of water, signifies a substantial addition to India’s naval fleet. It is projected to host French Rafale jets, marking a strategic move to bolster the nation’s aerial defense capabilities. India’s inaugural indigenous carrier, INS Vikrant, constructed by Cochin Shipyard Ltd., was inducted into the fleet last year, complementing the nation’s naval assets, which also include a Russia-made aircraft carrier.
This endeavor aims to fortify India’s naval presence in the Indian Ocean and assert its strategic influence, especially as China’s naval presence expands in the region. The addition of a three-carrier battle group underscores India’s commitment to regional security and reinforces its ability to exert influence across distant maritime domains, offering a significant show of strength.
While representatives for the Ministry of Defense and the Indian Navy declined to comment, the move aligns with India’s broader objective to reinforce its maritime capabilities. Plans to bolster the fleet with 160 warships by 2030 and 175 by 2035, estimated at a cost of 2 trillion rupees, signify a strategic investment in India’s naval power. Currently, over 60 vessels for the Indian Navy are under various stages of construction.
The escalating naval competition in the Indian Ocean, with an increasing presence of naval vessels from countries like the US, France, and Japan, underlines the strategic importance of this move. India has also fortified its vigilance over crucial maritime straits by upgrading runway facilities at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, enabling night landings and facilitating enhanced maritime surveillance, particularly in the waters around the Malacca, Sunda, and Lombok straits.
The forthcoming induction of the aircraft carrier marks a significant milestone for India’s maritime defense strategy, symbolizing the nation’s commitment to reinforcing its naval capabilities and asserting its position in the evolving geopolitics of the Indian Ocean region.
Sources By Agencies