World Aircraft Carriers List: India

Revised 26 November 2001
Version 2.07
Compiled and Maintained by: Andrew Toppan
World Aircraft Carrier Lists Main Page:

Vikrant (R11) light fleet aircraft carrier
Viraat (R22) VSTOL aircraft carrier

Note: India continues attempts to build or acquire additional aircraft carriers. There are ongoing discussions about the possible transfer of the Russian Gorshkov, however, it now seems unlikely that this ship will be acquired. India has also announced plans to build a new "Air Defense Ship" (i.e. small carrier) of 32,000 tons displacement and 250 meters length. The ship would operate navalized MiG-29 fighters and a navalized version of the Indian Light Combat Aircraft. Construction is planned to start by 2000, with planned completion in the 2007-2010 timeframe. It is difficult to say whether this ship will actually be built; there have been several previous announcements about Indian carrier construction, none of which have produced an actual ship.

Vikrant (HMS Majestic class) light fleet aircraft carrier

Displacement: 19,500 tons full load
Dimensions: 630 x 80 x 24 feet/192 x 24.4 x 7.3 meters
Extreme Dimensions: 700 x 128 x 24 feet/213.3 x 39 x 7.3 meters
Propulsion: Steam turbines, 4 boilers, 2 shafts, 40,000 hp, 23 knots
Crew: 1345
Armor: none
Armament: 15 40 mm AA
Aircraft: 16

Concept/Program: An ex-RN light fleet carrier, suspended incomplete at the end of WWII, sold to India and completed to a modernized design. Was India's only carrier for over 20 years.

Design: Completed to an extensively modernized design, with an angled deck, modified island, and many other improvements over the original design.

Modifications: Modernized, refitted and re-engined 1979 to 3 Jan 1982. Refitted for Sea Harriers 12/82 to 2/83; ski jump added 1988-89. Proposed conversion to an assault ship not carried out.

Operational: Saw combat against Pakistan.

Departure from Service/Disposal: Suffered from extreme reliability/maintenance problems; even following major overhauls she rarely went to sea. The ship was effectively out of service by the early 1990's due to her poor condition, but was not formally decommissioned until 1997.

ex-HMS Hercules
Photos: [Vikrant as completed].

Built by Vickers-Armstrong, Tyne. Laid down 12 Nov 1943, launched 22 Sept 1945. Suspended after WWII and laid up for possible future use. Designation changed to R49 under NATO designation system. Sold to India 1/1957 and completed at Harland & Wolff to the modernized design. Commissioned in Indian service as INS Vikrant (R11) 4 March 1961.

Effectively out of service by the early 1990's due to poor condition. Formally decommissioned 31 January 1997. To be preserved as a museum at Mumbai.

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Viraat (HMS Centaur class) VSTOL aircraft carrier

Displacement: 28,700 tons full load
Dimensions: 650 x 90 x 29 feet/198 x 27.4 x 8.8 meters
Extreme Dimensions: 744 x 160 x 29 feet/226.7 x 48.8 x 8.8 meters
Propulsion: Steam turbines, 4 boilers, 2 shafts, 76,000 shp, 28 knots
Crew: 1830 + 270 air group
Armor: none
Armament: 2 Sea Cat SAM, 5 dual 40 mm
Aircraft: 21 VSTOL

Concept/Program: An ex-RN light fleet carrier, initially completed to an extensively modernized design and later converted to a VSTOL carrier, purchased upon retirement from RN service. This ship was probably meant to replace the ailing Vikrant, although that ship remained nominally in service for another decade. Now India's only carrier.

Design: Fitted with an angled deck, but the takeoff path is oriented axially; there is a skijump at the bow.

Operational: The ship is in reasonably good condition, but will require replacement by 2007-2010.

ex-HMS Hermes, ex-Elephant
Photos: [Hermes as completed], [After 1960's refit], [As an ASW carrier], [As a VSTOL carrier], [Viraat as commissioned].

Built by Vickers-Armstrong, Barrow. Laid down 21 June 1944, renamed 11/1945, construction suspended following WWII. Construction resumed mid-1950's, launched 16 February 1953, commissioned 25 Nov 1959. Initially operated as a light fleet carrier. Refitted 24 Feb 1964-5/1966. Decommissioned to reserve 14 July 1970; converted to a commando carrier at Devenport Dockyard 1 March 1971 to 18 Aug 1973.

Converted to ASW carrier 10 May 1976 to 10 Dec 1976, then replaced in ASW role by Bulwark and converted to VSTOL (Harrier) carrier in 1980. Had been scheduled for decommissioning, but retained for Falklands service. Decommissioned to reserve 12 April 1984, stricken for disposal 1 July 1985.

Sold to India 19 April 1986, refitted prior to transfer, commissioned 12 May 1987 as INS Viraat (R22), formally recommissioned in India 15 Feb 1989. Major refit at Cochin 1999-2001.

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