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Navy Chief strongly pitches for third aircraft carrier

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Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh. A PTI Photo

NEW DELHI (PTI):  A third aircraft carrier for India is "absolutely necessary" to further expand its maritime prowess, and it will be in sync with the country's aspiration to become a USD 5 trillion economy, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh said on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference ahead of the Navy Day on December 4, Admiral Singh said the Navy was moving forward with its plan to have a third aircraft carrier and will place a case for it before the government after collecting all required technical details.

"We have not yet gone to the government for the third aircraft carrier. But we are very clear about the utility of the aircraft carrier. Because the air operations are absolutely integral in naval operations. Air power at sea is absolutely important," he said.

The Chief of Naval Staff said aircraft carriers are "absolutely necessary" for an aspirational India that has nearly one-fifth of the global population and want to raise its overall stature.

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.

At present, India has only 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.

"The navies are all about reach and sustenance. If you are a nation that is aspirational, if you want to become a five trillion economy, you have one fifth of the world population, if you want to do well, you have to go outwards... For that you require air power. Aircraft carriers are absolutely necessary," the Navy Chief said.

In February, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat had indicated that the Indian Navy may not get an 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, had said that cost could be a major factor in deciding on the issue as aircraft carriers are "very expensive".

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