India yesterday unveiled its first indigenous aircraft carrier, the INS Vikrant. The Vikrant, which is currently only 30 percent complete, will be fully operational by 2018 according to the Indian navy, although experts say the carrier will not be ready until 2020.
When the Vikrant is fully operational, India will join the U.S., the U.K., Russia and France as one of only five countries capable of designing and building its own aircraft carrier.
Unlike most aircraft carriers, which use catapult systems to assist takeoff, the Vikrant is a short take-off but arrested recovery, or STOBAR, carrier. Planes take off using a ski jump rather than a catapult and land using arrestor wires.
The Vikrant will field as many as 30 fixed wing aircraft such as the Russian MiG-29K and indigenous HAL Tejas fighters, and 10 rotary wing aircraft, such as the Russian Kamov Ka-31.