The Covid-19 pandemic has set back the start of trials of India’s indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant by at least six months. Vikrant was undocked on 10 June 2015 after the completion of structural work. By October 2015, the construction of the hull was close to 98 percent complete, with flight deck construction underway. The installation of machinery, piping and the propeller shafts was in progress by January 2016; it was reported, however, that there were delays in the delivery of equipment from Russia for the carrier’s aviation complex. In February 2020, all the major structural and outfitting work was declared complete by the government.
In March 2020 it was revealed that Indian Navy after commissioning the aircraft carrier will deploy the ship at L&T’s shipyard in Kattupalli near Chennai. This was done as the planned naval base in Rambilli near Vishakhapatnam is not ready yet. The navy wants to lease a 260 m berth at Kattupalli shipyard, for 8 years between 2022 and 2030 for interim berthing of the ship, by which time the naval base at Rambilli is expected to come up. The first phase of the warship’s trials – termed basin trials – was initially scheduled to begin on March 12 but construction delays caused that to be moved back to April. Then, with the Covid-19 crisis, the navy says trials are unlikely to begin before September/October.
INS Vikrant, also known as Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 1 (IAC-1), is an aircraft carrier under construction by Cochin Shipyard in Kochi, Kerala for the Indian Navy. It is the first aircraft carrier to be built in India. The name Vikrant (Sanskrit vikrānta, literally “stepping beyond”) means “courageous”. Work on the ship’s design began in 1999, and the keel was laid in February 2009. As of 2019, the ship is expected to start sea trials in February 2021 and enter into service in early 2022. The project cost has escalated, by 2014, to ₹19,341 crore (equivalent to ₹250 billion or US$3.5 billion in 2019). With an additional ₹3,000 crore (US$420 million) authorised for phase III, in 2019.