‘Third aircraft carrier is essential for India given China’s activities’

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NEW DELHI:  A third aircraft carrier is a necessity for India due to operational and tactical reasons, especially in the context of China’s growing imprint on the Indian Ocean, said a senior Navy officer.
“Three aircraft carriers are tactically needed with one each on the Eastern and Western sea board at any given time while the third will be under refit,” the officer said.

“To deny it just for financial crunch is misplaced understanding. We require a third aircraft carrier for operational and tactical reasons.” India currently has one serving aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, while another indigenously built INS Vikrant is scheduled to be commissioned by 2022. Earlier this month in Kolkata, Chief of Defence Staff  General Bipin Rawat, had said that submarines and aircraft carriers “have their advantages and disadvantages.”

The officer said the Navy cannot lose a skill mastered in the last 60 years as it takes time to develop the skill-set in terms of operational design and development. An aircraft carrier, the officer asserted, adds to the “surge capability” as the fighter jets operating from land will always have their limitations.

Given the Chinese belligerence in the Indian Ocean, the officer said the country will have to extend air power into far-off areas like the Malacca Strait on one side and Gulf of Aden on the other. “Concentration of force is a principle of war. If you have two operationally ready carriers, you can be active in two areas. If needed, you can move it, bringing a different environment to the battle.”

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