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In modern times, aircraft carrier for any navy across the world forms one of the most essential part. If any country wants to flex its muscles in the high seas then an aircraft carrier is more than a necessity. India is one of the few countries currently owning an aircraft carrier, INS Viraat. Though the life of the sole aircraft carrier is coming to an end and to replace the ageing soldier INS Vikramaditya is being inducted into the navy. It's projected that the induction would take place by end of 2012 or early 2013.
INS Vikramaditya was originally built as Admiral Gorshkov in Russia during the cold war but was later on was put up on sale in the year 1996 as it was not feasible to maintain such a carrier on a post cold war budget. Since then India and Russia had been on the negotiating table for the purchase of the kiev class carrier. Finally in April 2004, It was agreed that the ship would be free and India would only play for the refitting it desired.
India demanded the hybrid carrier to be converted into a full carrier by removing the missile launchers and other weaponry system from the foredeck of the carrier to make space for the STOBAR (short take off and assisted recovery) system. The things demanded by India to be modified also included the boilers to be replaced by diesel types; the hull has been modified and enlarged to add more stability.The complete Gorshkov package would also include MiG 29k all weather planes, Kamov Ka 31 helicopters, advanced radar system and many other small things.
Though many skeptics are wary of this carrier but most of the experts in the industry has maintained that after refurbishing the carrier would fulfill most of the current needs of the Indian navy and add the requisite muscle, after the initiation of the work as the cost overruns and revision cause stale mate between the two countries, Russia even expressed its desire to continue the refurbishing and induct it into its own navy. The carrier comes with a life expectancy of about 20 yrs but our navy system expert's gauge the carrier should last for about next 30 yrs. The most important aspect of this buy is not for it to act as a short term transition carrier as INS Viraat is retired and INS Vikrant is still being developed, its main role lies along with the indigenously developed INS Vikrant, It will allow the Indian navy to deploy its resources more effectively and would be able to maintain different enemies at different locations, As aircraft carriers play such a pivotal role in modern warfare system as they not only acts as offshore refueling points but they also act as support system in the form of men, material, strategy etc, and its not just for the navy but for the other arms of the defense establishment also. The skeptics still argue about Vikramaditya being a second class warship but in USD $ 2.2 billion, it's a steal as compared to the cost for a newly built aircraft carrier of the same specifications, size and firepower. The addition of power to the Indian navy would come not just with the MiG 29 planes or the 'Helix' copters but also from the range of movement of Indian forces it would facilitate, along with the requisite machinery and other heavy goods which might prove to be too costly for airlifts.
In conclusion INS Vikramaditya is another step in the journey of India and its people towards a more stable and secured future.