NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday inducted the country’s largest aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, into the Indian Navy and dedicated it to the nation, after visiting the warship in the Arabian Sea off the coast of the western state of Goa.
“It’s a moment of pride for me to understand the functioning ( on the ship) and know its power. Why should we import defense equipment? We must be self-sufficient,” he said, while addressing naval officials on board the aircraft carrier, in his first defense outing after assuming office last month. Local TV channels showed footage of the Prime Minister sitting in the cockpit of a Russia-made MiG29K fighter jet and interacting with the crew on board.
Modi also witnessed take-off and arrestor wire landing operations and high-speed, low-level operations of the MiG29K integral fighters on board the flight deck of INS Vikramaditya. With a capacity to carry 1,600 personnel on board, the 44,500- tonne INS Vikramaditya, procured from Russia, has the ability to accommodate 30 aircraft, including an assortment of MiG 29K/Sea Harrier, Kamov 31, Kamov 28, Sea King, and Dhruv and Chetak helicopters.
The Indian Navy has a strength of 58,350 personnel and a large operational fleet consisting of two aircraft carriers, one amphibious transport dock, nine Landing ship tanks, eight destroyers, 15 frigates, one nuclear-powered attack submarine and various auxiliary vessels. But in last year alone, the Indian Navy suffered nearly 10 mishaps involving naval assets, which also led to the resignation of then naval chief Admiral D.K. Joshi in February this year. Xinhua
Meanwhile, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Saturday the country must be “self sufficient” in its defence capabilities at a ceremony inducting a Russian-built aircraft carrier into the navy.
Modi said India should place “immense importance” on developing the latest technology as the navy looks to recover from a string of deadly accidents and other mishaps. The premier, considered a hardline nationalist, swept to power last month on a pledge to reform the economy and boost manufacturing and local production.
“Why should we import defence equipment? We must be self sufficient,” Modi’s office tweeted him as saying while on board the carrier off the coast of Goa. “Why can’t we send our defence equipment to other nation?” he said. “We need to give immense importance to latest technology. This will help the nation,” he added.
Russia handed over the 44,500-tonne INS Vikramaditya carrier to India late last year after a refit that overran by five years and went vastly over budget, damaging ties between the countries. Russia is India’s largest arms supplier. India last August unveiled a domestically produced carrier, and the INS Vikramaditya is its second, intended to shore up the country’s defence capabilities as it seeks to counter a military build-up by an increasingly assertive China.
“Security of the country is our top priority,” Modi was also quoted by the Press Trust of India news agency saying. “We want to see eye to eye with the world. We don’t wish to threaten others, neither do we wish to bow down before others.” The new carrier is 284 metres long and is designed to carry 30 aircraft. The induction comes after a fully-armed submarine exploded in flames and sank last year in a military shipyard in Mumbai, killing 18 sailors. Six months later, a submarine accident off the Mumbai coast left two sailors dead.
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