Indian Aircraft Carriers; How India is building its own legacy of failure.

Shazam

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The following writeup utilises information available on Wikipedia and various articles on the subject, some of which have been identified in the following.

A recent Naval War College Review article by Ben Wan Beng Ho sheds some light on the problems that India’s carrier force might have in taking the fight to Pakistan. Long story short, India’s carriers would face enormous risks in undertaking offensive operations, with very uncertain benefits.

Ho argues that the need for self-defense, combined with limited deck space, make it very difficult for future INS Vikrant and present INS Vikramaditya, either separately or in tandem, to threaten Pakistani land installations. Pakistan’s A2/AD network, including submarines, aircraft, and surface ships, poses a credible threat to the carriers, making their use in offensive operations very risky. Conceivably, Pakistan could even attack Indian carriers with tactical nuclear weapons, if the war developed in that direction. The Indian carriers would struggle to execute a close blockade of Pakistani ports, destroy the Pakistani surface fleet, or do much damage to Pakistani military targets on land.

There are also serious doubts regarding the reliability of the existing ship; Vikramaditya which is an old Russian hull that underwent controversial late-life transformation into a STOBAR carrier, it would be pertinent to look at the performance of Russia's own aircraft carier in service with the Russian Navy.

The Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s only aircraft carrier, was launched in 1985 and joined the fleet in 1991. Since then the 55,000-ton, fossil-fuel-powered flattop has managed just four frontline deployments—all of them to the Mediterranean, large ocean-going tugs accompany Admiral Kuznetsov whenever she deploys, anticipating breakdowns.

The Issues that Plague INS Vikramaditya

INS Vikramaditya
(Sanskrit, Vikramāditya meaning "Brave as the Sun") is a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier.

Originally built as Baku and commissioned in 1987, the carrier served with the Soviet Navy and later with the Russian Navy (as Admiral Gorshkov) before being decommissioned in 1996. The carrier was purchased by India on 20 January 2004 after years of negotiations at a final price of $2.35 billion.

The flattop was due to enter service in 2008. But the poorly-managed Russian shipyard was overwhelmed by the scale of the refit. The cost doubled and trials were bumped back to September 2012. And when the crew pushed the conventionally-powered ship to her theoretical top speed of 32 knots, her boilers overheated.

“India didn’t want to use asbestos as heat protection for the boilers,” Defense Industry Daily explained. “Instead, the boilers’ designer had to use firebrick ceramics. Which, as we see, didn’t work so well.

The emphasis?

"Especially on a ship that Russia put up for sale in 1994, after a boiler room explosion."

More repairs. More delays. More money.

“The problems revealed during sea trials last year have been fixed,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin vowed in late 2013, by which point Vikramaditya was expected to enter active service in India in the spring of 2014, the article concluded.

New Delhi is building a new carrier from scratch that should eventually complement the Russian hand-me-down but it is more or less a copy of the Russians, bar GE propulsion gas turbines, it is a similar design, displacement and size as that of INS Vikramaditya, it is called INS Vikrant.

The two ships are similar but not identical, meaning that maintenance and flight procedures will vary in potentially consequential ways. This makes sharing aircraft and pilots a dicey proposition.

Even if Vikrant is considered to be a purpose-built STOBAR carrier, it will be the largest warship ever constructed in India, with all of the potential reliability issues that this entails.

So India has decided to copy a flattop hobbled by mechanical problems, stricken by age, plagued with bad design and stuck with warplanes that simply don’t work.


The Fighter aircraft back bone of Indian Carriers is ‘riddled with problems'


The MiG-29K, the backbone of Indian carrier aviation, is riddled with problems due to defects in the airframes, engines and fly-by-wire systems.

A Controller and Auditor General report says the MiG-29K fleet – India ordered 45 fighters from Russia for $2 billion for INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant – is “riddled with problems” due to defects in the fighter airframes, RD-33 MK engines and fly-by-wire systems.

Consequently, the serviceability or operational availability of MiG-29Ks is pathetic – ranging from just 15.93% to 37.63%.


Conclusion

“Active service” being a relative term. If Russia’s own experience with its crappy carriers is any indication, the Indian ships will spend most of their time in port being repaired between brief forays into near waters.

While pouring down billions of dollars in the black holes called Vikrant and Vikramaditya, should provide important opportunities for learning much needed lessons in lacking Naval professionalism and competence as evident from routinely occuring accidents to Indian Submarines and surface ships, the Indian Navy may need to wait for the commissioning of INS Vishal, projected in the 2030s, to have a potentially real offensive carrier capability against Pakistan.

However, by that time, the lethality of Pakistan’s A2/AD umbrella may have significantly increased to better address existing and emerging threats.
 

Shazam

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They certainly are self sufficient and completely indigenous in piling up their legacy of goofups.







A file photo of INS Vikrant at Cochin shipyard (AFP file)
A file photo of INS Vikrant at Cochin shipyard (AFP file)

INS Vikrant vandalised, looted at Cochin shipyard
1 min read . Updated: 18 Sep 2019, 12:57 PM ISTShaswati Das
  • A hard disk and a multi function control processor were stolen and damaged inside Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC)-Vikrant
  • Theft and vandalism a result of “an internal matter and a possible insider job”: Home ministry

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INS VikrantCochin Shipyard

New Delhi: In a breach of national security, a hard disk and a multi function control (MFC) processor were stolen and damaged inside Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC)-Vikrant docked at the Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL).

In a serious breach of national security, a hard disk and a multi function control (MFC) processor were stolen and damaged inside Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC)-Vikrant docked at the Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL).

While a probe is underway in the matter, the Union home ministry has said that the theft and vandalism was a result of “an internal matter and a possible insider job."

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which was manning the dock for any suspicious movement or possible terror activity, said that while private security had been manning the construction area of the dock, the probe had been handed over to the state police.

“The disk contains sensitive information crucial for national security and a probe is underway to check if it was an insider job or not," said a person familiar with the development.
 

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