Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first visit to a military establishment will be a grand show of national power as he is set to visit the newly-acquired INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier next weekend.
This would be the first visit of a national leader to the largest and most powerful warship of the Indian Navy that made its journey from Russia in December, and would also be the first public display of the aircraft carrier’s capabilities.
Sources said the PM has expressed a desire to visit the ship and the Navy is making arrangements for him to embark with a team over the weekend of June 14-15.
During the visit, Modi will be shown the operational capabilities of the carrier, including take-offs and landings by the MiG 29 K fighters on the ship.
While the final details are being worked out, Modi is expected to be on the warship off the western coast for a few hours. The INS Vikramaditya is the most powerful symbol of India’s military reach and is designed to undertake strike missions across the world. It undertook a non-stop journey from North Russia’s Severodvinsk to Mumbai in November-December last year.
Sources said Modi is also likely to visit the eastern and northern borders in the coming weeks. It is believed the Army is already drawing up plans for his visit to the eastern border, with likely areas being discussed. Similarly, plans for a visit to the northern borders are also afoot, but it is not yet clear if the visit will include the Siachen Glacier.
As reported by The Indian Express last week, the INS Vikramaditya is finally battle ready. Navy Chief Admiral Robin Dhowan had said the aircraft carrier is fully operational with an adequate number of pilots now qualified to operate from the floating airfield. He said pilots have been conducting regular flying operations.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley’s first visit to a defence establishment too would involve the Navy, as he is scheduled to be in Mumbai on Saturday, where he will visit India’s other operational aircraft carrier, the INS Viraat. Jaitley will also be the chief guest at the commissioning ceremony of the Indian Coast Guard ships Achook and Agrim in Mumbai.
The parties concerned have been directed to submit reports on the current status of construction.