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INS Viraat (R22)

INS Viraat underway in February 2002
Name: INS Viraat
Ordered: 1943
Builder: Vickers-Armstrong
Laid down: 21 June 1944
Launched: 16 February 1953
Acquired: May 1987
Commissioned: 12 May 1987[1]
Decommissioned: 2016 (proposed) [2]
Refit: April 1986, July 1999, August 2008-November 2009, November 2012-July 2013
Homeport: Mumbai, Maharashtra[3]
Identification: Pennant number: R22
Motto: Jalameva Yasya, Balameva Tasya (Sanskrit: "He who rules over the seas is all powerful")
Status: in active service, as of 2016
Crest of INS Viraat
General characteristics
Class & type: Centaur-class aircraft carrier
  • 23,900 tons standard
  • 28,700 tons full load
Length: 226.5 m (743 ft)
Beam: 48.78 m (160.0 ft)
Draught: 8.8 m (29 ft)
Propulsion: 2 x Parsons geared steam turbines; 4 boilers with 400 psi, 76,000 shp
Speed: 28 knots (52 km/h)
Range: 6,500 mi (10,500 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h)
  • Maximum 2,100;
  • 1,207 ship's crew,
  • 143 air crew
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • 1 × BEL/Signaal RAWL 02 air radar
  • 1 × RAWS 08 air/surface radar
  • 2 × BEL Rashmi navigation radars
  • 1 × EL/M-2221 STGR fire control radar
  • 1 × Plessey Type 904 radar
  • 1 × FT 13-S/M Tacan system
  • Sonar:
  • 1 × Graseby Type 184M hull-mounted sonar
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
  • 1 × BEL Ajanta ESM
  • Decoy:
  • 2 × Knebworth Corvus chaff launchers
Aircraft carried:

INS Viraat (Hindi : भा नौ पो विराट )(Sanskrit, Virāṭa meaning Giant) is a Centaur-class aircraft carrier in service with the Indian Navy. INS Viraat was the flagship of the Indian Navy before INS Vikramaditya was commissioned in 2013. The last British-built ship serving with the Indian Navy, she is the oldest aircraft carrier in service in the world and is one of three carriers based in the Indian Ocean region.


  • Design and description 1
    • Air group 1.1
    • Combat data systems 1.2
  • Operational history 2
    • Royal Navy Service 2.1
    • Induction into Indian Navy 2.2
    • First mid-service refit 2.3
    • Second mid-service refit 2.4
    • Third mid-service refit 2.5
    • Fourth mid-service refit 2.6
    • Short refit 2.7
    • Fifth mid-service refit 2.8
    • Air Arm 2.9
    • Decommissioning plans 2.10
  • Gallery 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Design and description

A Sea Harrier takes off from INS Viraat. The Ski-Jump can be seen.

Viraat is fitted with a 12° ski jump to operate the Sea Harrier,[4] a reinforced flight deck, and 1.2 inches (3 cm) of armour over the magazines and machinery spaces. The magazine capacity includes at least 80 lightweight torpedoes. The vessel retains commando transport capability for up to 750 troops and carries four LCVP landing craft in the aft section. In a wartime scenario, the INS Viraat can embark up to 26 combat aircraft. INS Viraat is suited for two missions: supporting amphibious operations and conducting ASW operations.

Air group

(Capacity for 26 total)

Combat data systems

The ship has been fitted with

  • Italian SELEX (former ELMER) communication suites
  • CAAIS action data automation; Link 10
  • SATCOM systems

Operational history

Viraat was completed and commissioned in 1959 as the Royal Navy's HMS Hermes and was transferred to India in 1987. She was commissioned on 12 May 1987.[1] In 2009 there were reports[5][6] that after that year's refit was concluded, India might keep the aircraft carrier in service until 2020. By then, the warship would have completed 60 years of service, over twice its initially estimated sailing life of 25 years. At that time the two Indigenous Aircraft Carriers (IACs) seemed likely to be fully operational, which was the reason to keep Viraat operational until then, according to unnamed Navy officers.[5] However, the warship's age and cost of maintenance later prompted naval headquarters to consider decommissioning Viraat by 2017 or sooner.[7] In February 2015, the navy announced plans to decommission Viraat in 2016, and began the process to obtain Defence Ministry clearance for the carrier's decommissioning.[8]

Royal Navy Service

INS Viraat was originally commissioned in the British Royal Navy as HMS Hermes on 18 November 1959, fifteen years after she was laid down in June 1944. During her career as Hermes, she served as the flagship of the Royal Navy's task force during the Falkland Islands campaign in 1982. She would serve the Royal Navy another three years until she was decommissioned from active duty in 1985.

Induction into Indian Navy

After evaluating vessels from several countries, particularly the planned Italian Garibaldi-class,[9] the Indian Navy purchased the vessel in April 1986[10] and gave her an extensive refit at Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth, England, to allow for continued operability into the next decade.[11] New fire control equipment, navigation radars, improved NBC protection, and deck landing aids were installed in this refit. Boilers were converted to operate on distillate fuel.

First mid-service refit

In September 1993, the engine room of Viraat flooded, putting the vessel out of service for several months. By 1995, the vessel was back in service and had a new search radar.

Second mid-service refit

Between July 1999 and April 2001, INS Viraat completed another life-extension refit which was expected to extend her serviceability until 2010. This refit upgraded propulsion systems, added a package of sensors to sound emergency alerts, and introduced modern communication systems. In addition, a long-range surveillance radar, weapon systems, and a new hangar with fire curtains were installed. The lift system was revamped to reduce reaction time in the event of an attack and a new flood alarm system was installed. In early June 2001 Viraat returned to service after nearly two years of refit.

The vessel also took part in the International Fleet Review in Mumbai in February 2001.

Third mid-service refit

The vessel had to be towed back to dry dock for another refit in mid-2003 and returned to service only in November 2004, during which the vessel was fitted with the Barak SAM.[12][13]

Indian Navy Sea Harriers and Indian Air Force SEPECAT Jaguars with a US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet overfly Viraat.

Fourth mid-service refit

Viraat underwent a fourth refit in Indian service from January to August 2009 at Cochin Shipyard, Kochi, India.[3] This refit was expected to ensure her continued service in the Indian Navy until 2015. Viraat went through exercises in the Arabian Sea for a month and a half before being deployed to the Gulf of Aden.[3][14]

Short refit

On 12 July 2011 INS Viraat arrived at Cochin Shipyard for a short refit scheduled to be completed in two months. As part of the refit the ship was cleaned, repaired and repainted to eliminate the problems faced by years of sea corrosion. According to Rear Adm. Anil Kumar Chawla, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff for Foreign Cooperation and Intelligence, it is possible that the ship could remain in service until 2020, provided that there are still Sea Harriers available for ship-borne operations[15]

Fifth mid-service refit

Viraat (top) escorting the Indian Navy's newly acquired aircraft carrier Vikramaditya during her delivery voyage

On 2 November 2012, Viraat arrived in Kochi for the first part of a major two-phase refit. In this first phase, scheduled to last through February 2013, the hull was cleaned, probed for corrosion and worn hull plates reinforced; the hull also received a fresh coat of corrosion-resistant paint.[16] The carrier was then scheduled to sail to Mumbai for further upgrades to her machinery, after which it would rejoin the fleet in the summer of 2013; the refit would enable her to serve through 2016. According to a senior naval officer, this would likely be Viraat‍ '​s final major refit before her decommissioning.[17]

Air Arm

Viraat had four squadrons on board :

Decommissioning plans

In 2004, India bought the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov[18] from Russia for US$ 2.35 billion including its complement of aircraft.[19] It entered service in 2013 as INS Vikramaditya. Viraat was expected to be replaced by 2015-16 by a new indigenous Vikrant-class carrier, but after having her engine and hull refurbished and electronics upgraded, her service life was extended until 2020.[20][5] However, the warship's age and cost of maintenance subsequently prompted naval headquarters to consider decommissioning Viraat by 2017.[7] In December 2014, Vice-Admiral Anil Chopra, the Flag Officer Commander-in-Chief of the Western Naval Command, said a review board had been established to determine Viraat 's continued service life, and that the carrier may be decommissioned by 2018.[21]

In February 2015, the navy announced plans to decommission Viraat in 2016, and began the process to obtain Defence Ministry clearance for the carrier's decommissioning.[22] In July 2015, it was announced that Viraat would be transferred to the Andhra Pradesh state government for conversion into a museum ship and tourist attraction, at a cost of 20 crore (US$3 million). She will be docked at Kakinada.[23]


See also


  1. ^ a b "Surface Ships". Indian Navy. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  2. ^ S. Anandan (February 12, 2015). "INS Viraat to be decommissioned in 2016".  
  3. ^ a b c "INS Viraat out of dry dock, to sail to Gulf of Aden soon - India - DNA". Retrieved 2011-02-26. 
  4. ^ China and the Asia-pacific Region: Geostrategic Relations and a Naval Dimension By Jae-Hyung Lee
  5. ^ a b c "Naval Air: Where There Were None, Now There Is One". 2009-08-20. Retrieved 2011-02-26. 
  6. ^ , Ritu Sharma, Indo-Asian News Service, 17 August 2009INS Viraat refit complete, gears up for golden jubilee.Accessed 14 October 2010.
  7. ^ a b 3 December 2013 (2013-03-12). "Navy plans nuke-powered carrier - The Telegraph (Calcutta)". Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  8. ^ S. Anandan (February 12, 2015). "INS Viraat to be decommissioned in 2016".  
  9. ^ The Naval Arms Trade By Ian Anthony
  10. ^ Students' Britannica India By Dale Hoiberg, Indu Ramchandani
  11. ^ Aircraft Carriers: The World's Greatest Naval Vessels and Their Aircraft By Chris Bishop, Chris Chant Zenith Imprint, 2004
  12. ^ Israel's Quest for Recognition and Acceptance in Asia: Garrison State Diplomacy By Jacob Abadi, Abadi Jacob
  13. ^ International Electronic Countermeasures Handbook By Journal of Electronic Defense Staff
  14. ^ IANS (2009-08-17). "The Hindu : News / National : INS Viraat refit complete, gears up for golden jubilee". Chennai, India: Retrieved 2011-02-26. 
  15. ^ "Navy to operate Viraat aircraft carrier for another decade - The Economic Times". The Times Of India. 2011-01-19. 
  16. ^ "INS Viraat arrives in Kochi for periodic refit". The Hindu. 2012-11-03. 
  17. ^ "Major repairs for the INS Viraat, its replacement delayed again by Russia". NDTV. 2013-03-08. 
  18. ^ Indo-Russian Military and Nuclear Cooperation: Lessons and Options for U.S Policy in South Asia By Jerome M. Conleyfrom
  19. ^ INS Vikramaditya#cite note-20
  20. ^ 19 Jan, 2011, 08.41PM IST,IANS (2011-01-19). "Navy to operate Viraat aircraft carrier for another decade - The Economic Times". Retrieved 2011-02-26. 
  21. ^ PTI (4 December 2014). "Navy technical board to assess service life of INS Viraat". ABP. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  22. ^ S. Anandan (February 12, 2015). "INS Viraat to be decommissioned in 2016".  
  23. ^ Suresh Dharur (July 4, 2015). "INS Viraat to turn into a museum". The Tribune. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 

External links

  • Indian Navy
  • - Bharat RakshakViraatINS
  • Malabar exercise
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