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With INS Vikrant, India among the elite countries that can develop aircraft carriers: What are these nations?

INS Vikrant is India’s first home-made aircraft carrier. Countries like the United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia, France, and Japan are the others that have the technical know-how and capability to create such complex and large warships.

“INS Vikrant is not just a war machine but proof of India’s skill and talent. It’s special, different.

With these words, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made Indian history, commissioning the first locally designed and built aircraft carrier – INS Vikrant – from Cochin Shipyard Limited in Kerala.

The new INS Vikrant, named after its predecessor, is a complex warship that will enhance India‘s maritime capabilities. The 262 meter long and 62 meter wide aircraft carrier displaces around 43,000 tonnes when fully loaded, with an expected top speed of 28 knots with a range of 7,500 NM.

Also Read: The History of Aircraft Carriers in India

Built at an estimated cost of Rs 20,000 crore, it has state-of-the-art features and can operate an air wing consisting of 30 aircraft, including MiG-29K fighter jets, in addition to domestically manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs). .

With this milestone, India joins an elite league of nations capable of developing such large and complex warships. According to recent figures, there are a total of 46 aircraft carriers in the world, including 25 Helo aircraft carriers (a warship whose main purpose is to operate helicopters).

We take a look at this club of nations and their shipbuilding capabilities.

United States

America has a long history of aircraft carrier manufacturing.

The first purpose-built aircraft carriers for the US Navy were the Yorktown class. He had three ships: Yorktown, Enterprise and Hornet. They were over 800 feet long, had a crew of 2,900, and could carry 80 to 90 aircraft.

With the approach of World War II, two more classes of aircraft carriers were ordered under President Franklin Roosevelt: the Essex class and the Independence class. Essex-class aircraft carriers became the backbone of the United States Navy’s wartime strength. Carriers were in use long after World War II and were constantly improved and modified. Some received sloping flight decks and the ability to carry jets. A few carriers even served in Vietnam. The last Essex-class aircraft carrier, used as a training ship, was decommissioned in 1991.

Over time, America continued to innovate in its aircraft carriers. Today, the only aircraft carriers in service with the US Navy are the 10 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers and the new Gerald R Ford class, which entered service in 2017.

Ford-class aircraft carriers are about 1,100 feet long, have a crew of 4,500 and can carry 75 aircraft, including the US Navy’s new F-35C stealth fighter.

The ships feature a suite of new technologies and systems, including the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, which uses electromagnetic energy instead of steam.

The USS Gerald R Ford is one of the most advanced and expensive pieces of military equipment ever built. AFP


The United Kingdom experimented with the aircraft carrier during the First World War. He developed HMS Argus, the first true aircraft carrier with a clear flight deck.

Then came HMS Hermes, which spent a total of 58 years in the British and Indian navies. A conventionally powered Centaur-class flattop was not launched until 1953 and entered service with the Royal Navy in 1959.

During the Falklands War in 1982, HMS Hermes was the flagship of the British armada, leading over 100 ships across the South Atlantic to reclaim the islands from the Argentines.

Hermès’ life after the Falklands was brief. After a refit and an exercise, the aircraft carrier was decommissioned in 1984, but that was not the end of her career. The aircraft carrier was sold to India in 1986 and after undergoing modifications the aircraft carrier was commissioned into the Indian Navy as INS Viraat in a ceremony held in the UK in May 1987.

Today, the British Navy has two aircraft carriers in service: HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales both displace around 72,000 tons when fully loaded and are 920 feet long. The ships use a conventional propulsion system.

Recently, the £3billion-developed HMS Prince of Wales made headlines when it came to rest – less than hours after setting sail to undertake training exercises with the US Navy and Marine Corps and the Royal Canadian Navy.


In 1967, the Soviets launched Moskva, a helicopter carrier, followed by her sister Leningrad two years later. They were 12,000 ton anti-submarine ships usually carrying fourteen Kamov helicopters. Both retired in the 1990s.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union developed the Admiral Kuznetsov, the largest conventionally powered carrier in the world.

Built in the Ukrainian Nikolayev Shipyards, Kuznetsov displaces 58,000 tons and is 1,000 feet long. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the ship saw little use, but Russian President Vladimir Putin used it as a symbol of Russia’s resurgence on the world stage, sending it to Syria for combat deployments.

He also developed the kyiv-class aircraft carriers. At 899 feet, the ships were about 85 percent longer than the US Navy’s newer Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.

Of the four kyiv-class aircraft carriers, Baku remained and was later sold to the Indian government for conversion into a full aircraft carrier. Converted by the Russian Sevmash shipyards in the 2000s and 2010s, it is now known as the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and is the flagship of the Indian fleet.

With INS Vikrant India among the elite countries that can develop aircraft carriers What are these nations

HMS Queen Elizabeth was commissioned in 2017. The class was built by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance and cost around £3.8 billion to build. PA


China has come a long way since the 1970s when it expressed a desire to develop and operate its own aircraft carriers.

In 2016, they transformed a Soviet aircraft carrier into Liaoning, the first for the Asian giant. It was in 2019 that China built its own aircraft carrier, the Shandong. Manufactured by the Dalian Shipyard, it can displace around 66,000 to 70,000 tons and has a maximum speed of around 31 knots.

The Shandong is approximately 304 meters long and can accommodate 1,900 crew members.

Also read: How does INS Vikrant compare to Chinese and American aircraft carriers?

In June, China launched its next-generation aircraft carrier, the Type 003 aircraft carrier dubbed Fujian. Fujian uses electromagnetic catapults and arresting devices to allow planes to take off and land on its deck. The vessel has a displacement of over 80,000 tons.

Fujian will now begin moorings and sea trials. Fujian’s launch is part of an ongoing effort to modernize the People’s Liberation Army Navy.


Currently, France has one working aircraft carrier – Charles de Gaulle – named after the most revered statesman of the 20th century.

Built by the DCN (Direction des Constructions Navales) shipyard in Brest, Brittany, her keel was laid on April 14, 1989, she was launched on May 7, 1994 and she made her maiden voyage on May 18, 2001.

The vessel has a hull length of 261.5 meters (858 ft), a beam of 64.36 meters (211.2 ft), a height of 66.5 meters and a draft of 9.43 meters ( 30.9 feet), with a displacement of 38,000 tons. In terms of firepower, the aircraft carrier can accommodate up to 40 aircraft, including 24 Dassault Rafale M multirole fighters (before 2016 this role was occupied by the Dassault-Breguet Super-Étendard), two E-2C Hawkeye, two NFH Caiman Marine helicopters, a Eurocopter AS565 Panther and two AS365 Dauphin (“Dolphin”) Pedro helicopters.

According to reports, France will now build its second aircraft carrier with better and more advanced technologies.

Forbes reported that the new ship will displace up to 75,000 tons of water and be larger than the Charles de Gaulle. The new ship should also be able to accommodate more aircraft on board.

With INS Vikrant India among the elite countries that can develop aircraft carriers What are these nations

The Fujian, launched in June, will be China’s third aircraft carrier, marking a major military breakthrough for the Asian giant. AFP


When Japan launched an attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Japanese designed a mission that included the country’s six front-line aircraft carriers, Akagi, Kaga, Sorya, Hiryu, Shokaku, and Zuikaku. All of these ships were developed by the Japanese, displaying their military capabilities even then

After the war, Japan banned aircraft carriers as tools of offensive warfare.

However, 80 years later, citing concerns about the growth of the Chinese navy and the construction of its own aircraft carriers, Japan announced that it would convert the Izumo and Kaga helicopter carriers into ships capable of launching and recovering F-35B Joint-Strike Fighters.

With contributions from agencies

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