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India’s biggest warship enters service — RT World News

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned the country’s first domestically designed and built aircraft carrier, INS (Indian Naval Ship) Vikrant, on Friday.

He hailed the US$2.5 billion ship as “a manifestation of India’s glorious maritime tradition” and “a vibrant symbol of Indian pride.”

“So far, such aircraft carriers were only made by developed countries. India has taken a step towards being a developed country by being part of the league,” Modi said during the ceremony in the southern state of Kerala.

The new vessel has become the largest warship ever-built by India on its own. The ship is set to operate an air wing consisting of 30 aircraft, including Russian made MiG-29K fighter jets, Ka-31 early warning helicopters, as well as US MH-60R multi-role helicopters. Later on, the vessel is expected to receive prospective homegrown aircraft, currently known as Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).

Modi also unveiled the new Naval Ensign, set to replace the current symbol, carried over from the colonial era and consisting of the St. George’s Cross. The introduction of a new ensign is a “landmark step” which “will further national pride and rid our nation of colonial baggage,” he stated.

The new 262-meter, 43,000-ton warship has become the second aircraft carrier of the type in the Indian Navy’s fleet. Another aircraft carrier currently in use is INS Vikramaditya, originally built as Baku Kiev-class aircraft-carrying cruiser back in the Soviet era.

Laid down back in 2009, INS Vikrant was launched in 2013, known at the time simply as Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 1 (IAC-1). The ship got fully fitted out last year and underwent extensive, nearly year-long sea trials. The vessel has been named after the very first aircraft of the Indian Navy, INS Vikrant, originally laid down as HMS Hercules in Britain.

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