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Parth Sharma asked: Is China's aircraft carrier, Liaoning, fully operational? What is the current status of India's aircraft carrier?

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  • Sarabjeet Singh Parmar replies: The Chinese aircraft carrier, Liaoning, recently completed sea trials after a 37 day sea sortie from November 26, 2013 to January 01, 2014 in the South China Sea. Sea trials are a major part of sequential events that make a ship fully operational. Other facets, to name a few include:

    • Construction or acquisition or earmarking of escort assets.
    • Continuous training and exercises to validate doctrines by
      • Day and night and adverse weather flight operations
      • Surface operations with escort ships/assets (again day and night and in adverse weather conditions)
    • Establishment of a fully capable shore support for repair, maintenance and logistics.

    All these issues require time for fusion so that the standard operating procedures are streamlined and the viability of meeting strategic and operational targets is achieved. This could take time as China is operating an aircraft carrier for the first time and, therefore, could make mistakes that would stretch the time period. Although the carrier could be termed as operational when the flight operating standards are met, a fully operational status could be termed as reached when operations with escort assets and adequate shore support targets are also achieved.

    In contrast, INS Vikramaditya would achieve fully operational status in a shorter time frame. This is due to the fact that escort assets and shore support facilities exist and India has the experience of operating aircraft carriers since 1961. The first indigenous aircraft carrier is likely to be commissioned in 2018 after which it would also follow the path of trials before becoming fully operational. The second indigenous carrier is, as per reports, in the design phase with a planned commissioning date of 2025.

    Posted on January 28, 2014