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Centaur-class aircraft carrier: INS Viraat

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The Centaur class aircraft carrier was originally commissioned in the British Royal Navy as HMS Hermes in Nov 18, 1959 and served the Royal Navy for nearly 28 years. Viraat, mean’s a giant in Sanskrit, has a crew of 1,500 personnel and a total weight of 28,000-tonne.

INS Viraat acquired the Indian Navy platform in 1987 and became India’s second aircraft carrier. It is pivotal to the navy's aim to project it’s naval and air power beyond its borders. It provides operation ground for Sea Harrier combat aircrafts. It can embark up to 18 combat aircraft and is suited for supporting amphibious operations and conducting anti-submarine warfare.

INS Viraat underwent an extensive life-extension refit in 1999-2000, for new and upgraded propulsion, sensors, sonar, radars, weapons, communication and flood-control systems, which is expected to extend her serviceability till 2010. Later the aircraft carrier went for one year refurbishment in 2008 at Cochin Shipyard to further extend its life.

The vessel has been fitted with a 12º ski jump to operate the Sea Harrier, a reinforced flight deck, 1.2 inches of armour over magazines and machinery spaces. The magazine capacity includes 80+ lightweight torpedoes. The vessel retains commando transport capability, for around 750 troops.

The INS Viraat is fitted with different weapons, the Israeli Barak SAM system, with fire control provided by EL/M-2221 STGR radar. Two 40mm Bofors guns are used for air defense and were accompanied by a pair of 30mm AK-230 gatling guns (for protection against anti-ship missiles) till the latter was replaced by the Barak system. Fire control for the Bofors and AK-230 guns, which were installed in 1996, were provided by a pair of Plessey Type 904 radars at I/J-band frequency. One of these radars has since been replaced with the installation of the EL/M-2221 STGR radar.


Vessel Type: Aircraft Carrier.

Name & Pennant Number with Commission Date: Hermes R12; Launched - 16 February 1953, Commissioned - 18 November 1959, Decommissioned - 12 April 1984.

Name & Pennant Number with Re-Commission Date: INS Viraat R22 - 20 May 1987.

Displacement: 23,900 tons standard and 28,700 tons full load.

Dimensions: Length - 226.5 metres,(Beam - 48.78 metres.Draught - 8.8 metres)

Main Machinery: Has four boilers with 400 psi. Also has two geared steam turbine engines with 76,000 ship and two shafts.

Maximum Speed: 28 knots.

Maximum Range: 6500 miles at 14 knots.

Complement: 1350 (incl. 143 Officers with the air group)

        Bharat Rakshak Website

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