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Indian Navy to decommission INS Viraat by 2018

NEW DELHI (PTI): Set to induct two aircraft carriers by the middle of the decade, Indian Navy is planning to decommission its lone warship capable of operating fighter jets – INS Viraat, in another seven years.

"We are expecting the Russian-built INS Vikramaditya and the indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) by 2017.

After receiving the two warships, we will go ahead with the decommissioning of INS Viraat," a senior Navy official said here.

He added that though after the upgrades, INS Viraat would be available for use till 2018, it would be decommissioned after the two other ships arrive.

INS Viraat has been in service for the last 50 years and has undergone a number of upgrades to allow the Navy to operate at least one carrier.

At present, the $2.33 billion INS Vikramaditya is being refurbished in Russia and is expected to join the Navy by the end of 2013.

"The IAC is expected to be launched by the end of this year and we hope that it will take another five to six years to join operational service," officials said.

The Indian Navy plans to deploy a carrier on each of its two seaboards to protect and safeguard its assets in its area of interest ranging from the Hormuz strait in west to the Malacca strait in the east.

On the follow-on ships of the IAC, the officials said the size of the future indigenous aircraft carriers would depend on the type of fighter aircraft that the Navy chooses in the near future.

At present, the Navy operates the British-origin Sea Harrier aircraft and has recently placed orders for 45 new MiG 29K aircraft for operating on INS Vikramaditya.

It is also looking to induct the naval version of the LCA, which is expected to be ready by the time the IAC joins service.

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