Did you know that India has second largest fleet of aircraft carriers in the world? Next only to USA’s navy. Countries like Britain which once had as many as 40 aircraft carriers have all disbanded them down and currently own none. Even Russia has decommissioned or sold all of its aircraft carriers and currently own only one (maintained primarily for prestige reasons and not for tactical). What is worse that India is buying these aging decommissioned assets and taking great pride in retrofitting them.
Why does India need 2 aircraft carriers? Why is it building a third? Aircraft carriers are a purely offensive military asset meant for creating a mobile airstrip far away from the nation’s borders. So any country that is not planning to cross the seven seas to bomb or air raid should not own one.
Secondly: basic but stupid question: Where on earth are we going to have enough trained pilots & aircraft to actually man the aircraft carrier? Indian air force has been complaining for decades that its pilots get only Flying Coffins (MIGS that were designed and made in the 70s, yes 35 years ago)
Thirdly: The two biggest threats Indian Navy is facing today are: How to prevent 2008 like amphibious raid and pirates that threaten to hijack cargo. Should not any wise country focus on these problems? How does an aircraft carrier solve them?
Fourth, if you have seen India on a map, you would realize that the biggest threat comes from the long borders in the North West that we share with Pakistan. Most of our aircrafts are committed there. Incidentally India did a very successful naval blockade in 1971 and even raided the port of Karachi (Operation Trident & Operation Python). Surprisingly our aircraft carrier was not used. It was deemed too expensive to risk.
Aircraft carrier is a huge liability. Its weight & size makes evasive maneuverer almost next to impossible. No wonder whenever this behemoth leaves for the high seas, half the fleet (ships, submarines, patrol boats, helicopters etc.) need to accompany it. For a country like India, which actually has a very small naval fleet, this means that security elsewhere needs to be compromised. There is a common saying in India, “If you want to bankrupt someone, gift them a white elephant.”
This is the reason why China, in spite of its aggressive & military intentions does not rely on aircraft carriers. It leases ports from friendly countries like Myanmar to achieve the same results. Also it has huge dredging operations in South China Sea to convert small islands into a stable & large air force cum navy base. Simple logic, it is much cheaper to build, does not require special aircrafts to operate because of the large landing strip & sufficient hanger space. Also you cannot sink an island, nor you need to replace them periodically.
If India believes that it might be targeted though a large naval assault in the near future, why does it not develop its military bases in Andaman & Lakshadweep further? They are aptly suited to guard our left & right flanks. If it has developed them to the full capacity & still India needs three aircraft carrier, then I think we are overspending on military.
The worst thing any country can do is commit huge funds for ornate demonstrations. Indian basic military infrastructure is what major needs revamp, not these white elephants which will never leave the port.