Friday, 15 May 2015

INS Vishal: Will India go Nuclear?


In a meeting of Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar Rs.30 crore was allotted to carry out a feasibility Study and Draft Design for building the second indigenous aircraft carrier.

Vishal which means “wide, broad, spacious” in Sanskrit will be second Vikrant-class aircraft carrier which also will be built by Cochin Shipyard Limited for the Indian Navy and will be second aircraft carrier to be built in India.

The proposed design of the second carrier marks significant changes from the first Indigenous aircraft which will be 25,000 tons more than first carrier which is still under constructions and will see an increase in displacement of over 65,000 tons.

An interim feasibility study carried out by Indian Navy also explored the possibility of equipping a Nuclear marine propulsion to power INS Vishal. Navy believes current pressurised light-water reactors technology developed by Indian Nuclear institutes to power Naval Platforms are capable enough to power INS Vishal. Navies ” Naval Design Bureau ” is also in talks with Russian Design Bureau to help realises it integrating Nuclear marine propulsion to the new aircraft carrier.

What could be the biggest obstacle for going Nuclear in INS Vishal might be its Cost. On an Average a Nuclear Aircraft Carrier cost 3 times more than Conventional aircraft carrier due to its complex Design and technology involved. There also is a need for Installation of proper Nuclear safety mechanism for the crew which drive up the cost of the aircraft carrier.

INS Vishal which will feature Catapult Assisted Take Off But Arrested Recovery, or CATOBAR System will move away from conventional steam-driven piston Catapult mechanism system and is eying Us made Next generation Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) which can launch a carrier-based aircraft from an aircraft catapult using a linear motor drive .

EMALS causes less wear and tear on carrier-launched aircraft since electric power can be delivered more accurately than steam. It also offers quicker aircraft launches and requires less personnel to operate. EMALS also is capable of launching heavier Airborne early warning aircrafts like Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye which also has caught the attention of Indian Navy.
Has the saying goes Next generation technology relatively does not come cheap and as Per Us media reports the cost of Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and advanced arresting gear (AAG) technology per unit costs are listed as FY08$ 762.9 million (614.7 + 148.2) for CVN 78 (USS Gerald R. Ford) .

EMALS also has its own set of critics who consider it an Expensive system which is untested in operational service. since it is not yet in service anywhere and the first aircraft carrier to be equipped with such advanced launch mechanism will be Ford class Aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford which only will be commissioned in US Navy by 2016 .

Indian Navy already has lined up some major projects like Constructions of Indigenous Nuclear Attack Submarines and also the development of next generation of ballistic missile submarine which will require considerable amount of funding from the government in next few years , it will be challenging convincing MOD .

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