India's first domestic aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, will be officially commissioned today after nearly a year of sea trials. The 45,000-tonne warship was built at a cost of Rs 20,000 crore. Here are the top 10 events in this great story:
1. The aircraft carrier will be commissioned by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Cochin Shipyard. Prime Minister Modi also unveiled the new naval flag during the event. The Navy had earlier said that the new insignia would be in keeping with India's rich maritime heritage.
2. INS Vikrant is 262 meters long and 62 meters wide, making it the largest warship in India. It can carry 30 aircraft, including MiG-29K fighters and helicopters. The warship can accommodate almost 1,600 crew members.
3. INS Vikrant will first have MiGs and some helicopters. The Navy is buying 26 carrier aircraft, which has been narrowed down to a handful of Boeing and Dassault aircraft.
4. The warship has been under construction for more than ten years. Several phases of sea trials of INS Vikrant have been completed since August 21 last year. The air trials will take place after the command is given to the fleet.
5. Currently, India has only one aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, which is built on a Russian platform. The defense force has been looking for three aircraft carriers - one for standby and one for two main naval fronts in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal.
6. INS Vikrant is named after its predecessor which played a key role in the 1971 war against Pakistan to liberate Bangladesh.
7. With INS Vikrant, India joins the group of countries like US, UK, Russia, China and France that can design and build their own aircraft carriers.
8. The Indian Navy sees this new warship as an important addition to its arsenal. India can now deploy aircraft carriers on its east and west coasts and expand its maritime presence.
9. China has aggressively expanded its naval power. The latest satellite images provided by NDTV show that China's naval base in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, is now fully operational and supporting warships stationed in the Indian Ocean. Recently, a Chinese "spy" ship that docked in Sri Lanka and India has also caused concern.
10. The current Indian Navy consists of one aircraft carrier, 10 destroyers, 12 frigates and 20 corvettes.