'Indigenous aircraft carrier to join IN by 2012'

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Mumbai, May 9: The indigenous aircraft carrier is expected to join the Indian Navy by 2012 and plans are afoot to build the second carrier also at the shipyard Kochi, Naval Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta said today. Talking to newspersons during the two-day Naval Commanders Conference here, he said Indian Navy was planning to have three aircraft carriers in its fleet which were likely to increase to 160 with the construction of 34 ships and six submarines that were being constructed.

Currently, India did not have an operational aircraft carrier and the situation could have been averted, had aircraft carrier ''Vikramaditya'' arrived on time from Russia. The ship was expected to join the fleet in three years time. He said the facility in Kochi was expected to be used as a permanent carrier building line-up. One more will be ready by the time ''Vikramaditya'' retired, he added. He said more green field ship building yards were needed to strengthen the Indian Navy to enhance production of vessels.

''The Ministry of Shipping is setting up one ship building yard on each of the two coasts (east and west). Somebody must set up more greenfield projects for ship building as operational yards as the Mazgaon Docks Limited have limitations (of capacity),'' he said.

Admiral Mehta said construction major L and T had expressed interest in putting such a project. More private players should enter the fray, he added.

UNI

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