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Aircraft carrier INS Viraat in Kochi for maintenance work


Indian Navy's aircraft carrier INS Viraat

Kochi (PTI): INS Viraat, India's sole aircraft carrier, is here for annual maintenance work, estimated to cost around Rs 30 crore.

Underwater cleaning and painting work besides checking of underwater fittings are among the works being carried out. No major structural changes are being done now, officials said.

Depending on the progress of the work, the vessel is likely to be here for a few months, its commander Captain R Hari Kumar told reporters on board the unique warship, docked at the Ernakulam wharf.

When asked about the competence of the over 50-year-old ship when compared to similar vessels of other navies, he said, "When we had done exercises we have found she has delivered. We cannot compare to the US Navy. Very few countries have aircraft carriers. This is old. But it is the capability that matters. Aircraft carrier gives vital capability."

The fixed wing aircraft onboard are the Sea Harrier fighters of the INAS 300 Squadron popularly called 'White Tigers' and these are the only fighters in the world capable of vertical/short take off and landing.

The vessel, which has 150 officers and 1,500 sailors and can carry about 24 aircraft, will soon complete 25 years of service with the Indian Navy.

"It has a fair amount of life. Due to its progressive upgradation, it could be (used) around upto 2018," Captain Hari Kumar, who is the first Keralite to commander the ship, said.

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