The Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier project, the Air Defense Ship (ADS), has taken a leap forward with the Defence Ministry’s award of a $30 million contract to Fincantieri’s Naval Vessel Business Unit to help prepareconcept, design and implementation plans.
The Genoa, Italy-based firm also will build and integrate the propulsion systems for the vessel, a Navy official said.
The Defence Ministry also considered bids by DCN International, Paris, and Izar Construcciones Navales, Madrid.
The $800 million ship will be built by 2010 at state-owned Cochin Shipyard Ltd. (CSL), Kochi, but the yard does not have the expertise to complete the design, the official said.
Many other parts, including the hull and the landing deck, will be built by Mumbai-based Larsen & Toubru, the official said.
A Defence Ministry official said the Cochin yard would need major modifications to build the ADS, and said technical assistance would be obtained from state-owned Mazagon Docks, Mumbai, and various foreign shipyards and contractors.
The ADS will be India’s third aircraft carrier. The Navy already operates the INS Viraat and is slated to receive the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov by 2007.
Ship Similar to Cavour
Fincantieri’s design and construction of the Italian Navy’s Cavour carrier tipped the scales in favor of the Italian shipyard, the official said.
The ADS is expected to be of similar shape and weight, displacing 40,000 metric tons and measuring 57 meters wide and 252 meters long. Its top speed will be 32 knots. It will carry 1,200 sailors and 18 combat aircraft, including Sea Harrier jump jets and MiG-29K fighters, and 10 Advanced Light Helicopters.
The ADS is expected to be equipped with indigenously developed systems such as the Trishul anti-missile system, Aparna radar, electro-optical fire control systems and Humsa sonar systems.
The vessel will be powered by four General Electric LM 2500 gas turbines built by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., Bangalore.
The MoD official said the ministry is negotiating with Russian arms exports agency Rosoboronoexport, Moscow, for the construction of ADS superstructures, such as the runway and the Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery system, as well as for the supply of communication equipment, missiles and an unspecified number of MiG-29MK aircraft.
The ministry official said India may still shop elsewhere for aircraft, helicopters and weaponry.
The Navy in January signed a long-delayed deal with Russia to purchase 16 MiG-29K aircraft, worth $750 million, for the Admiral Gorshkov.
The plan for an ADS was conceived in 1986, when India was looking for a second aircraft carrier. It then bought the Viraat from the U.K. Royal Navy, and work commenced at the Directorate of Naval Design for an indigenous product.
The clearance to build the ADS was given by the former National Democratic Alliance government last year, when it decided to have three aircraft carriers for the Indian Navy in the next 10 years.