What is INS Viraat ?

What is INS Viraat ?

   Kautilya Academy    16-12-2020

INS Viraat is an aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy that is currently being broken apart at Alang ship-breaking yard, Gujarat. It is noted for its participation in Operation Jupiter and Operation Parakram. It was decommissioned in 2017. There have been offers to convert it into a maritime museum. But the warship has been sold for scraps as the center hasn’t issued a ‘no objection certificate’.   Recently, the Maharashtra government offered to cooperate with the defense ministry to restore the historic warship.

Key Facts of INS Viraat

  • It is a Centaur class aircraft carrier of Indian Navy.
  • INS Viraat served in the British Navy for 27 years before being commissioned in Indian Navy in 1987.
  • INS Viraat was the flagship of the Indian Navy before INS Vikramaditya was commissioned in 2013.
  • Between 1958 and 1970, INS Viraat served as one of the four strike carriers of the Royal Navy.
  • Also, INS Viraat served in Falkland wars.
  • In 1986, it was announced in the Indian Parliament that HMS Hermes will be bought from the Royal Navy at 63 million Euros.

Aircrafts operated by INS Viraat

The ship operated Seeking 42B (anti-submarine helicopters), Chetak (Angles-SAR Helicopter) and Sea Harrier (fighter aircraft).

International Joint Exercises

INS Viraat participated in the following joint exercises

  • Malabar Exercise with the US Navy
  • Varuna Exercise with the French.
  • Naseem-Al-Bahr exercise with the Oman Navy
  • TROPEX: Annual Theater Level Operation Exercise.


The Indian Navy decommissioned INS Viraat due to its high operating cost and maintenance cost.

  • In 2015, it was announced that it would be transferred to the Government of Andhra Pradesh for conversion into a museum at a cost of Rs 20 crores. However, the plans were eventually dropped.

  • In 2018, the Maharashtra Government approved the conversion of INS Viraat into India’s first maritime museum. However, the proposal did not attract tenders because of its high cost. The plan was dropped in 2019.

  • In July 2020, the Union Government decided to scrap the aircraft carrier in an online auction.

Centaur Class Aircraft Carriers

They were the aircraft carriers of the Royal Navy designed during the closing years of World War II. The Centaur Class Aircraft Carriers are HMS Centaur, HMS Bulwark, HMS Hermes, HMS Polyphemus, HMS Monmouth, and HMS Arrogant. The INS Viraat was the HMS Hermes.

Operations of INS Viraat

  • INS Viraat was deployed in two main operations namely Operation Parakram, Operation Jupiter.

  • Under Operation Jupiter, INS Viraat was deployed as part of Indian Peace Keeping Operations in Sri Lanka. This was done following the breakdown of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord of 1986.

  • During the India-Pakistan Standoff in 2001-2002, India launched Operation Parakram. Under the operation, amid calls from Russia, United Nations and the United States India deployed its troops to Indian Punjab and Kashmir. This was India’s largest military mobilisation since the 1971 conflict.

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