Arriving on board the warship in a Sea King chopper, the Prime Minister was given the ceremonial guard of honour by the Navy and was briefed about the warship, which will be dedicated to the nation today. He also sat in a MIG 29 aircraft and had a feel of the combat fighter on the ship sailing off the Goa coast. The Prime Minister will spend a few hours on board the 44,500-tonne warship and is likely to witness a host of exercises by the frontline warships and aircraft.This is the new Prime Minister’s first visit to any defence installation.
During his stay on the ship, acquired from Russia for over Rs 15,000 crore, Modi would witness ‘air power demonstration’ by various naval aircraft, including MiG 29K, Sea Harriers, P 8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Anti-Submarine Warfare aircraft, TU 142M and IL-38SD maritime surveillance planes along with Kamov and Sea King helicopters. He will also witness high-speed manoeuvres by the Navy’s Western Fleet ships including aircraft carrier INS Viraat, Delhi-class destroyers and Talwar-class frigates.
The Prime minister shall also witness the take-off and ‘arrestor wire landing operations’ and high-speed low-level operations of MiG29 K integral fighters planes onboard the flight deck of Vikramaditya, officials said. Modi interacted with the senior officers and the crew.
The deal for the aircraft carrier was signed during the previous NDA regime in 2004 and the ship will be dedicated to the nation after a gap of ten years. The vessel had joined the Indian Navy on November 16, 2013. The ship was earlier commissioned by the then defence minister A K Antony in Russia.
Vikramaditya, a floating airfield, has an overall length of about 284 metres and a maximum beam of about 60 metres, stretching as much as three football fields put together. Standing about 20 storeys tall from the keel to the highest point, the ship has a total of 22 decks and carries 1,600 personnel. Its logistics requirements include nearly a lakh of eggs, 20,000 litres of milk and 16 tonnes of rice per month. With her complete stock of provisions, she is capable of sustaining herself at sea for about 45 days. It is a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier which was purchased by India from Russia for the Indian Navy in 2013.
The ship has been renamed in honour of Vikramaditya, a legendary 1st century BC emperor. Originally built as Baku and commissioned in 1987, the carrier served with the Soviet (until the dissolution of the Soviet Union) and Russian Navies before being decommissioned in 1996, it being too expensive to operate.