India has unveiled its first domestically built aircraft carrier, becoming one of a select group of only five other nations to have constructed similar warships.
The United States, the United Kingdom, Russia and France are all capable of designing and building such vessels, while China is refurbishing a former Soviet carrier.
It is another major step in India’s efforts to boost its military presence at sea.
The launch of the 37,500 tonne “Vikrant”, at a shipyard in the southern state of Kerala, was accompanied by the chanting of hymns from ancient Hindu scriptures at a ceremony attended by India’s Defence Minister Arackaparambil Kurien Antony.
The ship, designed and manufactured locally, still needs further construction work and fitting-out. Then there will be extensive trials before going operational with the rest of the Indian fleet in 2018.
The country has been steadily building up its naval forces, driven by its rivalry with neighbouring China.