New Delhi: The construction of India`s first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) at Cochin is expected to be completed in December this year, after which the warship will be launched, Defence Minister AK Antony said Tuesday.
Antony, in a written reply to questions in the Lok Sabha, said the Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) had completed 75 percent of the hull work on the IAC, which is also known as the Air Defence Ship.
"Regarding the Air Defence Ship being constructed at CSL, 75 percent of hull work has been completed and is expected to be launched in December 2011, after which further works will be undertaken prior to commissioning," Antony said.
He said the augmentation of infrastructure at CSL was in progress and Indian-made hull quality steel was now available that will reduce the country`s dependence on foreign sources.
"With the infrastructure and experience, indigenous aircraft carrier-sized ships can be built at CSL. Additionally, Indian-manufactures warship quality steel is now available, which will reduce dependence on foreign countries," he said.
Declaring India`s intention of having at least two carrier task forces with aircraft carrier warships as the pivot of such battle groups, Antony said the country should be capable of deploying them on two locations soon.
"To maintain effective presence in our area of interest, Indian Navy should be capable of deploying carrier task forces in two geographically separated locations," he said.
The navy already operates the Centaur-class INS Viraat aircraft carrier. The refit and modernisation works on board the INS Vikramaditya, formerly Russian Navy aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, are progressing in an earnest manner, the minister said.
"Consequent to signing of supplementary agreements in March 2010, the Russian side has increased the manpower and material resources considerably for the (Vikramaditya) project. A majority of the equipment and systems have been installed on board the ship. The delivery of the ship is scheduled in December 2012," he added.