Prashant Sood | The News Minute | June 14, 2014 | 11:50 PM IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday dedicated to the nation INS Vikramaditya, India's largest and most powerful aircraft carrier which significantly enhances blue water capabilities of the Indian Navy.
Addressing navy personnel on board, Modi said India will not be intimidated by any power "but would engage with all nations as equals". Modi also pitched for self-reliance.
Modi, who spent nearly four hours on the mighty INS Vikrmaditya off the Goa coast, said that the warship's addition to the navy was "a historic step" and a golden chapter in the history of India's maritime security.
"Addition of INS Vikramaditya will add tremendous might to our navy," the prime minister said.
A smiling Modi waved his naval cap from the cockpit of the MiG 29K during his several minute long stint in the pilot's seat of one of India's most advanced fighter jets.
The carrier can carry 30 aircraft while at sea.
He also witnessed a display of naval capabilities in the choppy waters of the Arabian Sea.
The 44,500-tonne INS Vikramaditya, procured from Russia, is one of the newest acquisitions of the Indian Navy and the most powerful symbol of its military reach. It was commissioned by then defence minister A.K. Antony last November at Russia's Sevmash shipyard.
In his address to naval personnel on board INS Vikrmaditya, Modi said India would neither threaten any country nor be intimidated by any power "but would engage with all nations as equals".
"I came out of Delhi for the first time (after becoming prime minister) and came straight to you. This gives you an idea of priorities of the new government," Modi said.
Dressed in his trademark "kurta churidar" and a blue waistcoat, Modi said that we dream of an India that is self-sufficient in manufacturing defence equipment using the latest technology.
Modi said: "One of the primary reason India is capable of walking hand-in-hand with world forces is the Indian Navy and soldiers. INS Vikramaditya is a giant step in India's naval prowess."
He said that security was the prime requirement for country's progress.
Modi said that armed forces were witnessing transformation and "modern techonolgy" had become a significant part of security dynamics.
"Hence, it is important not only to have a dedicated soldiers but also military platforms based on technology," he said.
Modi also pitched for self-reliance and export of arms to small countries.
He stressed on the need to shed dependency on import of weapons in some areas and said that government wants to move in a direction that smaller countries have faith in equipment made in the country.
During his "Day at sea", Modi was accompanied by navy chief Admiral R.K. Dhowan, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh.
The prime minister promised to set up a war memorial and said the government was committed to implement "One rank, one pension" scheme for defence personnel.
INS Vikramaditya has an overall length of 284 metres and a beam of 60 metres, stretching as much as three football fields put together. Standing about 20 storeys tall from keel to the highest point, the vessel has 22 decks.
With over 1,600 personnel on board, Vikramaditya is literally a floating city. Linked to the personnel on board is mammoth logistics requirement -- nearly 100,000 eggs, 20,000 litres of milk and 16 tonnes of rice, to name just a few, per month.
Navy officials said the ship packs a powerful punch and provides India ability to project its power far beyond its shores.
The long-range air surveillance radars and advanced electronic warfare suite makes the ship capable of maintaining a surveillance bubble of over 500 km around the ship.
The warship can carry an assortment of MiG 29K/Sear Harrier, Kamov 31, Kamov 28, Sea King, Dhruv and Chetak helicopters.
The MIG-29K swing role aircraft, the main offensive platform on the warship, provides a quantum jump to Navy's maritime strike capabilities.
The fourth-generation air superiority fighters can carry an array of weapons, including anti-ship missiles, beyond visual range air-to-air missiles, guided bombs and rockets.