New Delhi (CNN)India joined an elite league of the world’s naval powers on Friday, when it commissioned its first domestically built aircraft carrier, the INS Vikrant.
With the $3 billion Vikrant, India will join only a small number of nations with more than one aircraft carrier or helicopter carrier in service and become only the third country, after the UK and China, to have commissioned a domestically built aircraft carrier in the past three years.
The carrier has filled the nation with “new confidence,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a ceremony marked by fanfare at the Cochin Shipyard in India’s southern Kerala state.
“The goal may be difficult. The challenges may be big. But when India makes up its mind, no goal is impossible,” Modi said, before boarding the carrier and unfurling the country’s new naval flag.
“Till now, this type of aircraft carrier was made only by developed countries. Today, India by entering this league has taken one more step towards becoming a developed nation,” Modi said, adding the Indo-Pacific region remained “a major security priority” for India.
John Bradford, senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said India’s commitment to the ship reflected its “long-term vision to maintaining a world-class naval force.”
“There are looming questions about the survivability of any carrier in the missile age, but major navies — including those of the US, Japan, China and the UK — are doubling down on their carrier investments. In this sense India is keeping in the race,” Bradford said.