The IAC-2 will be larger and have a displacement of about 60,000 ton. The ship will enter service in 10 to 15 years and will likely have either steam or electro-magnetic catapults installed.
The addition of catapults to IAC-2 would offer the following benefits:
- operate heavier aircraft such as fixed-wing Airborne Early Warning (AEW), including the Northop Grumman E-2D Hawkeye. Fixed-wing aircraft offer superior situational awareness compared to helicopter-borne aircraft such as the Ka-31 currently being used.
- catapults reduce the amount of deck space required to launch aircraft, while also allowing increased fuel and payload during takeoff.
- aircraft such as the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Dassault Rafale are only compatible with catapults. The Rafale was recently selected as winner of the Indian Air Force's Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition.
India plans to have 3 aircraft carriers available after the retirement of the Viraat. This would allow one carrier to be stationed on each coast, while the third undergoes training or maintenance.
The delivery of the INS Vikramaditya from Russia has been delayed until the second half of 2013 at the earliest after problems with the propulsion systems. Meanwhile, Russian pilots have successfully conducted flight tests from the ship using the MiG-29K/KUB aircraft.