Signalling that INS Vikramaditya is battle ready months after its arrival from Russia, Navy Chief Admiral Robin Dhowan has said that the aircraft carrier is fully operational with an adequate number of pilots now qualified to operate from the floating airfield.
Speaking with The Indian Express, Dhowan shared that the Indian crew has now been fully trained and the carrier is ready to conduct operations. “The ship is now operationally deployed and our pilots have been conducting regular flying operations. An adequate number of pilots have been trained,” he said, adding that the training was initially carried out by qualified flight instructors from Russia.
The Navy Chief, who took over charge in April after weeks of uncertainty due to the sudden resignation of Admiral D K Joshi after a spate of accidents, expressed satisfaction at the smooth sail of the aircraft carrier from Russia to India and said that the Navy was satisfied with the warship.
While he did not comment on when the Vikramaditya would be ‘dedicated to the nation’, Dhowan said that two major inductions are planned to be carried out in the coming weeks — the first P 28 anti-submarine corvette built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers to be commissioned at Vizag and the first to the Kolkata class stealth destroyers that is to be commissioned in Mumbai shortly.
Sources said the navy has proposed that the commissioning ceremony for the warships be presided over by a senior minister, as has been the norm. A visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to India’s largest warship, the Vikramaditya, is also in the offing and could be his first visit to a major military asset, besides a tour of the Siachen glacier.
Admiral Dhowan has also overseen flying operations on the aircraft carrier in May during a visit to the Western shores. The Vikramaditya participated in its first training exercise off the Goa coast in the first week of May along with ships of the western fleet.