The Indian Navy’s plan to acquire a third aircraft carrier may not materialize in near future, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat has hinted.
Replying to a media query on his priority between submarines and another aircraft carrier for the Navy, General Rawat on Monday said: “When we know that there would be two aircraft carriers there, and if the submarine force is dwindling, then our priority should be for submarines.”
The Navy has repeatedly stressed on the need to have three aircraft carriers so that two are operational at all times, in view of Chinese attempts to expand their footprints in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
Currently, the Indian Navy has one aircraft carrier – INS Vikramaditya operational while another is under construction.
“As Navy Chief, I am convinced that the country needs three aircraft carriers so that two are operational at all times. We think it should be 65,000 tonnes with electromagnetic propulsion,” Admiral Karamabir Singh had said while addressing the annual Navy Day press conference last year.
The Navy’s plan is to have three aircraft carriers in the fleet in the long term, he had said.
Speaking on the theatre commands, General Rawat said, “Our plan is to create a Peninsula Command with Navy’s Eastern and Western Commands under it. The area of the Command is planned to start from Sir Creek area in the west and Sunderbans in the east and downwards.”
General Rawat also said that he is in favour of staggered acquisitions of weapon systems where small orders are placed which “give us time to take care of their downtime and also allow modernisation of the three services simultaneously”.