India will launch its first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant on Monday, making an entry into a select club of countries capable of designing and building a carrier of this size and capability.
Defence Minister A K Antony's wife Elizabeth will launch the 37,500 tonne carrier at Kochi shipyard close to four-and-a-half years after its keel was laid by the minister.
Other countries capable of designing and building an equivalent size ship are the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia and France. The launch will mark the end of the first phase of its construction and it will then be re-docked for outfitting and construction of superstructure.
It is set to go for extensive trials in 2016 before being inducted into the navy by 2018 end, as per its schedule. Mig29K, Light Combat Aircraft and Kamov 31 could fly from the carrier. The launch would be the "crowning glory" of Indian Navy's indigenisation programme, said Vice-Admiral R K Dhowan, the vice-chief of naval staff.
Apart from domestic design and manufacturing work, it is the high grade warship steel made by the Steel Authority of India which has been used for building the ship.
The indigenous component in the warship would be approximately anywhere between 80 and 90 per cent in floating department, up to 60 per cent in movement and not more than 30 per cent in fighting component of the carrier.
The ship, with a length of 260 m and breadth of 60 m, has been designed by the directorate of naval design and is being built at Cochin Shipyard Limited. Its production work had commenced in November 2006.