INS Vikrant (R11)
The first aircraft carrier to be operated by the Indian Navy. Formerly HMS Hercules (R49), Vikrant was purchased in 1957 before she completed in 1957, entering service in 1961. Served in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.
Was modified between 1982 and 1983 to operate the Sea Harrier FRS.51; gained a ski-jump when the Breguet Alizé was retired in 1989. Patroled the Indian Ocean during World War Three enforcing a neutrality zone; the Allies respected this as it favoured them. Retired in 1997 and has since become a museum ship at Mumbai (Bombay).
INS Viraat (R22)
By the end of the 1980s the Indian Navy was more than aware that Vikrant urgently needed replacing. The origional plan to replace her had been to purchase HMS Hermes when she was decomissoned from Royal Navy service, however events overtook this plan and Hermes was sunk during the war. The Indians did briefly consider purchasing her sister HMS Bulwark, but she was too badly damaged after the Battle of the Baltic Exits. At this point the British government offered the dispairing Indian Navy a good deal - they would build a fourth Furious class carrier for them if the Indians committed to buying British helicopters (Merlins). Hardly believing their luck at the bargain basement offer (the British government were not being entirely altruistic as they were seeking to support the British ship building industry) and accepted. The new INS Viraat comissioned in Belfast in July 1994, setting sail for India two months later after completing sea trials. Today she frequently serves as the flagship for Indian Navy deployments.
INS Vikrant (R23)
Deciding that the Indian Navy really needed two aircraft carriers to be able to regularly deploy one at sea and seeking to improve the capabilities of Indian ship building the Indian government chose to maintain the links forged with the UK when Viraat had been ordered and purchased a slightly modified Queen Elizabeth class carrier. Although the carrier would be built in India there would be significant assistance provided by the British Carrier Alliance consortium. Vikrant is currently under construction and is due to enter service in 2018.
INS Vikramaditya (R33)
A proposed second QE class carrier intended as a replacement for Viraat. No funding has yet been allocated for construction.