Vikrant aircraft carrier india navy
India’s maiden Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) ‘Vikrant’, built by Cochin Shipyard Ltd., sets off for sea trials off Kochi, Wednesday, Aug 4, 2021. Image Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The much-awaited sea trials of India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) Vikrant, the largest and most complex warship built in the country, began on Wednesday, a development described as “historic” by the Indian Navy.

With the launch of the sea trials of the aircraft carrier, India has joined a select group of countries having niche capability to indigenously design, build and integrate a state-of-the-art aircraft carrier, the Navy said.

The 40,000-tonne aircraft carrier set off on its maiden sea trials, 50 years after its namesake played a major role in the 1971 war.

The aircraft carrier, built at a cost of around Rs230 billion, is expected to be commissioned into the Indian Navy in the second half of next year after it completes the aviation trials.

“It is a proud and historic day for India as the reincarnated Vikrant (IAC) sails for her maiden sea trials today in the 50th year of her illustrious predecessor’s key role in the victory in the 1971 war,” Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said.

He said it is the largest and most complex warship ever to be designed and built in India.

“A proud and historical moment in our quest for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India) and ‘Make in India’ initiative,” he said.

“With the building of indigenous aircraft carrier, India joins a select group of nations having niche capability to indigenously design, build and integrate a state-of-the-art aircraft carrier,” Commander Madhwal said.

The aircraft carrier is around 262 metres long and 62 metres wide, and has been built by the Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL)

In June, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the construction of the aircraft carrier that will be able to accommodate up to 30 fighter jets and helicopters.

The warship will have a fleet of Mig-29K fighter jets and Ka-31 helicopters.

India currently has only one aircraft carrier - INS Vikramaditya.

The Indian Navy has been focusing on significantly bolstering its overall capabilities in view of China’s growing efforts to increase its military presence in the Indian Ocean Region.

The Indian Ocean, considered the backyard of the Indian Navy, is critical to the country’s strategic interests.