At the advent of the Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh consistently fighting a strong case for a second indigenous aircraft carrier for India, these warships have gathered increasing attention towards themselves. These warships serve as the helm of the combat battle strategy and serve in the frontlines of India, protecting us from the international waters.

INS Viraat was the world’s longest-serving Aircraft Carrier Warship that was in service in India. India’s longest-serving warship sailed the waters for almost over 30 years before it was decommissioned in 2017. The current aircraft carrier in India in service is INS Vikramaditya.

Total Aircraft Carriers In India

Aircraft carriers are warships that serve as a moving airbase on the sea. They carry within them fleets of fighter planes, striker crafts, helicopters, and numerous other aircraft and are equipped with a flight runway to facilitate the launching and landing of aircraft.

These warships serve as one of the most important and often the centerpiece of the naval fleets due to its tactical advantage. Since these warships can carry so many aircraft directly into the international waters with no prior flight permissions as it easily bypasses the sovereignty of other countries.

There have been 3 aircraft carriers in the Indian Navy, though only one is still active right now. 2 carriers are in the construction process.

First Aircraft Carrier in India – INS Vikrant (1957)

  • The first-ever aircraft carrier warship of India and was decommissioned in 1997.
  • INS Vikrant aircraft carrier was bought from the UK, it was first named HMS Hercules and changed names after its sale to India.
  • It weighed up to 19-20 tonnes and could carry up to 23 aircraft.
  • It served as the main blockage for the country against the Pakistan Naval Force in the Indo-Pak War of 1971.

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INS Viraat

  • Bought from the UK, this carrier served the country for 30 years before it was officially decommissioned in 2017.
  • It was the helm of the Indian Navy as it’s crowned centerpiece before INS Vikramaditya took up the role in 2013.
  • It weighed around 29,000 tonnes and carried up to 26 aircraft.
  • Repairing failing parts and renovation of this longest-serving aircraft carrier needed huge amounts of funds which the Defense Minister Of India could not give his clearance to. That was why INS Viraat was decommissioned after INS Vikramaditya was ready to take over.

INS Vikramaditya

  • This is the current serving aircraft carrier of India.
  • It weighed up to 45,000 tonnes and can carry up to 36 aircraft.
  • It was made by USSR and Russia and was named Admiral Groshkov before changing its name after its sale to India.
  • It serves as the current flagship of the Indian Naval Army.
  • It operates on the STOBAR (Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery) system of launch and recovery of the aircraft.

INS Vikrant (2013)

  • Named after its predecessor and the first airbase reinforced warship of India. It is also known as Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 1 (IAC-1).
  • It is informally called INS Vikrant 2.
  • It is currently under construction and conducting trials by Cochin Shipyard Limited in Kochi, Kerala.
  • It is the first aircraft carrier warship to be made in India.
  • It weighed up to 40,000 tonnes and can carry up to 40 aircraft.
  • It is expected to be commissioned in 2023.

Future Plans

Chief Naval Admiral has been strongly demanding for a second Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-2) named INS Vishal to complete a three warship combat fleet. The designing of this warship is already underway and is supposed to be the first CATOBAR (Catapult-Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery) system aircraft carrier in India. It is planned to weigh 65,000 tonnes and carry up to 55 aircraft. Though it has been planned the Defence Minister Of India has still not cleared its project, mainly due to lack of funds. However, it is expected to be made and commissioned by the 2030s.

Recently India has even approached the Uk to build a warship along the lines of UK’s HMS Queen Elizabeth. However it has been reiterated multiple times, the importance of having 3 such warships as two will always be ready for deployment even if one is undergoing refits.


With the increasing military carriers in the Chinese Naval Forces, which forges deep into the Indian Ocean Region, it is imperative for India to upgrade their tactical combat operations to retaliate against China’s aggressive efforts. Aircraft Carriers are also one of the most dependent and long-lasting military forces as their service age is long and have fierce force projection capabilities. They are one of the pillars to fall back in times of need and thus a reliable investment for a country.

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How Many Aircraft Carriers Are There In India? New Warship Projects for the Navy
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How Many Aircraft Carriers Are There In India? New Warship Projects for the Navy
Aircraft carriers in the Indian Navy act like the main headquarters, the brain of the whole mass of destruction protecting our waters. Learn more about the Navy’s combat strategies.
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UPSC Pathshala
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