INS Viraat (R22) is a Centaur class aircraft carrier currently in service with the Indian Navy. INS Viraat is the flagship of the Indian Navy, the oldest carrier in service and one of two aircraft carriers in the Indian Ocean Region.
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The Viraat was completed and commissioned in 1959 as the Royal Navy’s HMS Hermes, and transferred to India in 1987. In 2009 there were reports that after that year’s refit was concluded, India might keep the aircraft carrier in service until 2020. By then, the warship would have completed 60 years of service, over twice its initially estimated sailing life of 25 years. At that time the two Indigenous Aircraft Carriers (IACs) seemed likely to be fully operational, which was the reason to keep Viraat operational until then.
Viraat is fitted with a 12° ski jump to operate the Sea Harrier, a reinforced flight deck, and 1.2 inches (3 cm) of Armour over the magazines and machinery spaces. The magazine capacity includes at least 80 lightweight torpedoes. The vessel retains commando transport capability for up to 750 troops and carries four LCVP landing craft in the aft section. In a wartime scenario, the INS Viraat can embark up to 30 combat aircraft. INS Viraat is ideally suited for two missions: supporting amphibious operations and conducting ASW operations. Despite its age and range considerations, INS Viraat can effectively project naval and air power anywhere in the South Asia region.