Once the carrier is inducted, the INS Vikramaditya will be the biggest ship in the Indian military, able to carry 24 MiG-29K/KUBs and six to eight Kamov Ka-31 airborne early warning helicopters.
According to the defense ministry official, the aim is to have at least two fully operational and combat-ready carriers available at any given time. The Indian navy wants to operate two such warships at its eastern and western seaboards.
Major changes to the ship include the removal of cruise missile tubes and surface-to-air missile vertical launchers, and the installation of a forward flight deck and ski jump for short-takeoff, assisted-recovery operations.
The ministry was informed about the delivery delays during defense minister-level talks in October, but there was confusion about whether the project cost would also go up due to the delay.
India is working on two important aircraft carrier projects at the moment, including the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) and the Gorshkov project, but both are delayed by more than three to four years.
INS Vikramaditya photo: India Defense Ministry