Indian navy plans three aircraft carriers by 2017
New Delhi, May. 17(AP): The Indian navy plans to have three aircraft carriers at sea in the next decade, according to the country's defense minister as India expands its efforts to project military power beyond its shores.
``Induction of the third aircraft carrier is envisaged by 2017,'' Defense Minister A. K. Antony said in a statement to India's Parliament on Wednesday.
India is currently building its first indigenous aircraft carrier, known as the Air Defense Ship, in the southern port city of Cochin. Also, a Russian aircraft carrier, the Admiral Gorshkov, is being refurbished for India.
India's sole current aircraft carrier, the INS Virar, formerly the British HMS Hermes, is scheduled for decommissioning in 2012.
As India's economic power has grown it has tried to match that by reshaping its armed forces into a modern military capable of projecting power well beyond its shores.
The indigenous ship, a 41,340-ton vessel, is designed for use with Russian MiG-29 fighter aircraft and is expected to be delivered to the navy by 2012, according to a parliamentary committee on defense.
The Russian ship is expected in 2008.
Antony said a decision to construct a second locally made carrier could be made only after ``the construction of the first aircraft carrier has progressed beyond a certain state.''