Indian Navy is likely to use advanced catapult-based aircraft launch mechanism (CATOBAR) from United States for its second indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-II), which is on drawing board.
In this regard, both countries have held several rounds of discussions in joint working group (JWG) on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation (JWGACTC) under Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) set up by them.
For some time, India was exploring possibility of installing US electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS). The US has offered India its latest EMALS technology, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. EMALS uses electric motor-driven catapult instead, which allows launch of much heavier aircraft and reduces stress on aircraft whereas older-generation CATOBAR is powered by steam catapult. It will allow Indian Navy to operate heavy surveillance aircraft, in addition to heavy fighters. However, the system is expensive, something that needs to be factored in.
The IAC-II has been envisaged to be around 65,000 tonnes and capable of carrying over 50 aircraft. Indian Navy is keen on nuclear propulsion, which will give it unlimited range and endurance, its development in time seems doubtful. India’s first domestic carrier, Vikrant, weighing 40,000 tonnes, is in an advanced stage of construction in Kochi (Kerala). It is scheduled to be launched by 2018-end. It works on Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) mechanism similar to that in present carrier INS Vikramaditya, with an angular ski-jump.