Indian Navy won’t get a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier anytime soon


The Indian Navy has abandoned its plan to acquire an American-style nuclear-powered aircraft carrier because developing a nuclear reactor powerful enough for the same will take a long time, reports Business Standard.

The Indian Navy was eyeing US technology with nuclear propulsion for INS Vishal to boost its range and potency.

Five officials directly connected with the INS Vishal project told the paper that instead of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, INS Vishal will now be a conventionally powered 65,000-70,000 tonne vessel, housing some 55 aircraft and incorporating a state-of-the-art “electromagnetic aircraft launch system” (EMALS) to catapult aircraft off the carrier.

The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) told the Navy that the process would take 15-20 years so that the nuclear reactor has all features to protect the aircraft from the corrosive and dynamic marine environment, said the report.

As of now, India has a 190 Megawatt (Mw) reactor for the country’s fleet of four-to-six nuclear propelled, nuclear missile carrying submarines which have been commissioned to INS Arihant, the first aircraft carrier.

Since INS Vishal would require a reactor capable of generating at least 500-550 Mw, India will have to develop a brand new, miniaturised reactor.

There has been some dispute within government bodies regarding the funding for the development of a 550-Mw reactor, which is not yet a part of the development plan.

BARC did not respond to an email query from the paper regarding the same.

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