INS Vikrant: Inside India’s newly-commissioned aircraft carrier

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On Friday morning, the 45,000-tonne Vikrant received the prefix INS (Indian Naval Ship) at a formal commissioning ceremony attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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The vessel — 262 metres (860 ft) long and about 60 metres (197 ft) long — is the first aircraft carrier that India has designed and built on its own. It has the capacity to hold 30 fighter aircraft and helicopters.

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"With INS Vikrant, India has joined the list of countries that manufacture giant aircraft carriers with indigenous technology," he said at the commissioning ceremony. It has filled the country with a new confidence. "

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India's other aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya can carry more than 30 aircraft. The UK Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth can carry around 40 and accommodate US Navy's Nimitz-class carriers.

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Vikrant, which cost around Rs 200bn ($2.5bn; £2.1bn), was expected to be inducted into the Navy by 2017. But the second phase of its construction was beset by delays.

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But the commissioning of the ship is still a historic moment for India, which will now join a select group of countries capable of building such a ship.

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The name Vikrant (meaning courageous) is also special – it was India's first aircraft carrier, bought from the UK and commissioned in 1961.

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Inside the ship

Currently, Vikrant is at the state-owned Cochin Shipyard in the state of Kerala — where the ship was built and where the commissioning ceremony was held.

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The big picture

While India will now have two aircraft carriers — INS Vikramaditya and Vikrant — several navy chiefs have publicly stated that it needs at least one more. But the government has not yet funded it.

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The big picture

Retired Vice Admiral AK Chawla, who has overseen Vikrant's progress till recently, says the choice now lies between acting or being left out.

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