INS Vikrant in construction
India is building its first indigenous aircraft carrier in Cochin.Twitter/SpokespersonMoD

Amid reports of China's first indigenously built aircraft carrier nearing completion, the Indian Navy now plans to induct the home-grown Vikrant-class aircraft carrier Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-1 or INS Vikrant) by 2018.

As the Navy aims to transform itself into a true blue-water naval force, it expands its role to protect commercial and strategic Indian interests in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and beyond.

Vice Admiral G S Pabby (Controller Warship Production and Acquisition) told reporters on Wednesday that the Navy is considering to have a 212 ship strong fleet by 2027 and is working hard in this direction, PTI reported.

He further added that the Navy is "seriously considering" to have a second aircraft carrier, dubbed IAC-2 or INS Vishal. Currently, the second ship is in its "concept" stage, he revealed.

The IAC-2 is expected to be a 65,000 tonner with Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) CATOBAR system.

With deepening defence co-operation with the U.S., India hopes to "draw" from U.S. experiences and signed Information Exchange Annex with it, which is expected to aid the Indian Navy's IAC-1 project.

The report noted the visit of senior U.S. Navy officials to Cochin to help them sort out issues with IAC-1. The IAC-1 is being built at Cochin Shipyard. The Navy said that 99 percent of hull work of IAC-1 is completed and also briefed about the status of Mine Countermeasures Vessels (MCMV) and Landing Platform Docks (LDP).

Vice Admiral Pabby said a contract for the "badly needed" minesweepers is expected to be signed very soon and they have finalised issues related to technology transfer from the foreign collaborators. India has been in discussion with Kanganam Corporation, a South Korean shipyard in this direction. India has a requirement of 12 such vessels costing Rs. 32,000 crore. These vessels are expected to be built in India at Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL), based in Vasco, Goa.

Recently, GSL went ahead with the purchase of weapons and sensor suite for the 12 minesweepers that are yet to be constructed.

Meanwhile, the Navy carried out technical evaluation for the Landing Platform Docks (LDP) project with issues in capacity assessment cropping up. But Vice Admiral Pabby assured that these are in the final stages. 

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