The commissioning of India’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-1) into the Navy as INS Vikrant marks a defining moment. The first ever aircraft carrier to be indigenously designed and constructed, INS Vikrant will strengthen the country’s standing as a ‘Blue Water Navy’ — a maritime force with global reach and capability to operate over deep seas.



  • INS Vikrant, with pennant number R11, was the first-ever aircraft carrier that was operated by the Indian Navy.
  • The ship was officially laid down in 1943, and was being built for the Royal Navy as HMS (Her Majesty’s Ship) Hercules when the constitution was put on hold after World War II ended.
  • Like many other ships at the time, the under-construction HMS Hercules was put up for sale by the United Kingdom, and was purchased by India in 1957. The construction work was completed and the ship was commissioned in the Indian Navy as INS Vikrant in 1961.
  • Compared to the new INS Vikrant, the old one had less than half its displacement and was over 210 metres in length against 260 metres of the present one.
  • R11 saw significant action during the 1971 war with Pakistan when it led the Naval blockade of East Pakistan. The ship was decommissioned in 1997 after 36 years of service.


About the new INS Vikrant

  • The vessel, to be named Vikrant after the first carrier operated by the Indian Navy, is the largest and the most complex platform so far designed by the Directorate of Naval Design.
  • Having operated two British-origin carriers, Vikrant and Viraat, the Navy wanted to build an air defence ship right from the 1980s but the idea crystallised into a project in the late 1990s. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) accorded approval for the project in 2002, its keel was laid in 2009 and the financial estimate was revised in 2014.
  • Roughly about ₹20,000 crore has been spent for the construction of the vessel.
  • But it led to a giant leap in military shipbuilding in India as it resulted in the development of warship-grade steel indigenously by Steel Authority of India (SAIL) and the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL) besides capability and skill-development at the shipyard.
  • The name Vikrant (Sanskrit vikrānta, literally “stepping beyond”) means “courageous“. The motto of the ship is “Jayema Saṁ Yudhi Spr̥dhaḥ“, which is taken from Rigveda and means “I defeat those who fight against me”.


Features of INS Vikrant

  • The INS Vikrant is an advanced platform in comparison with Vikramaditya, the only aircraft carrier in service with the Indian Navy, in terms of capabilities, automation and net-centricity. And its degree of indigenisation is about 76%.
  • Unlike Vikramaditya, which is steam-propelled, Vikrant is propelled by four gas turbines that were produced by GE but integrated and commissioned by its Indian partner, the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). Similarly, the COGAG (combined gas and gas) gear boxes from Germany were integrated by an Indian company named Elecon.
  • About 550 Indian companies, including about 100 medium and small scale industries (MSME), had a role to play in the construction of the carrier.
  • The INS Vikrant is 262 metres long, 62 metre at its widest part and has a height of 59 metres, including its super structure. Its diesel alternators, eight of them, generate as much as 24 MW power, which is enough to light up an entire city.
  • The ship has about 2,000 km of cabling, 120 km of piping and 2,300 compartments.
  • It has 14 decks, including five in the super structure, and will have a complement of a little less than 1,700 personnel. It’s the first ship with purpose-built gender-specific accommodation, as the Navy has begun deploying women officers on board ships. The largest alleyway of the vessel is on the fifth deck, with a length of 240 metres.
  • The ship can carry up to 30 aircraft, fighter jets and helicopters, and is capable of cruising at 18 knots speed with an endurance of about 7,500 nautical miles. It has a very high degree of automation for machinery operation, ship navigation and survivability.