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Approval for third aircraft carrier may not come soon, indicates Gen Bipin Rawat

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat has indicated that the Indian Navy may not get approval for a third aircraft carrier anytime soon as the priority is to bolster its submarine fleet.

Gen Rawat, who has been tasked to prioritise military procurement, on Monday said cost could be a major factor in deciding on the issue as aircraft carriers are "very expensive".

On December 3, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh said the Navy's long-term plan is to have three aircraft carriers so that two carrier battle groups are ready for deployment in the Indian Ocean Region round-the-clock.

The Navy has been pitching for three aircraft carriers to deal with China's growing naval prowess and its growing influence over the Indian Ocean region, a strategically key area for India.

"The Navy says its submarine fleet is dwindling. Then submarine should be our priority," Gen Rawat told a group of journalists while talking about steps being taken to ensure synergy among the three services.

At present, the Indian Navy has one aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, which is a Russian origin platform.

Indigenously built aircraft carrier (IAC) INS Vikrant is expected to be fully operational by 2022.

"We will see how it (INS Vikrant) comes out. Examine the performance," he said when specifically asked whether India will not have a third aircraft carrier.

Gen Rawat also said that India is looking at having overseas military bases to provide logistics support to its ships and vessels, as the country is looking at expanding its maritime presence.

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