INS Vikrant aircraft carrier
India’s “Indigenous Aircraft Carrier Program” is a good example. It was first determined to use ski-jump take-off and arresting landing. In addition to the hull being built locally, the aircraft carrier also has ship-based gas turbines, phased array radars, arresting cables, etc. The landing system and the supporting MiG-29K carrier-based fighter jets were all purchased from outside. After spending 3 billion US dollars (the latest estimate in January 2020), and also after delaying for many years, finally, the Vikrant was built and about to commission next month.
Not only India, even Britain and France, which are aircraft carrier powerhouses, also partially outsourced to solve the technical bottleneck of local construction of aircraft carriers. Although the “Queen Elizabeth” Class has a huge displacement of 65,000 tons, in order to reduce the technical difficulty, the 20,000-ton “Invincible”-class aircraft carrier ski-jump take-off and vertical landing method were adopted, and the catapult-type aircraft carrier route originally determined by the CVF plan was abandoned, Britain purchased the F-35B stealth vertical take-off carrier-based fighter directly from their close ally the United States, reducing the cost and difficulty of developing key technologies such as arresting cables and landing assistance systems.
The two generations of French domestic aircraft carriers “Clemenceau” class and “Charles de Gaulle” all used the US-made C-13 steam catapult. After the completion of the “Clemenceau” class in the 1960s, even the main carrier-based fighters were directly purchased from the United States, US made F-8 “Crusaders” were used to match the local “Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard” attack aircraft. “Charles de Gaulle” not only used the C-13 catapult, but also introduced the E-2C “Hawkeye” early warning aircraft from the USA. France’s future nuclear aircraft carrier plans to continue to use the “Advanced Hawkeye”, and the electromagnetic catapult system which will also be supplied directly from the United States.
Most Naval Forces can indeed import key aircraft carrier technologies from the United States and other countries as long as they have money, but it is difficult in the case of nuclear submarines.
At the time when the INS Vikrant indigenous aircraft carrier program was moving ahead, India was also working on its own domestic nuclear submarine “Advanced Technology Vessel” program, spending as much as ₹40 billion (US$520 million) per submarine, but many technologies for completing this program was supplied by Russia. These Nuclear Submarines are known as the Arihant-class subs in India. The subs are equipped with four K-4 SLBM for long-range striking purposes. India faced many difficulties during the development of these submarines.
The same Chinese Navy Type 094 ballistic missile submarine was completely copied from USSR Delta class submarine. Same goes for Chinese navy’s first homemade aircraft carrier Shandong which is a copy of Russian aircraft carrier and was built with the help of Ukrainian engineers and Russians.
Nuclear submarines are the most important sea-based nuclear weapons launching platforms for nuclear powers, so they are extremely cautious about exporting technology. However, making a nuclear submarine cost less compared to an aircraft carrier. US Navy spent more than 13 billion USD to make the Ford class aircraft carrier which is nearly double the entire budget of Pakistan armed forces.
Whether it is the hull construction technology represented by the large-diameter pressure hull, the nuclear reactor and the supporting missile system, or the pump-type water-jet propulsion technology, which is of great significance to noise reduction and muteness, the five nuclear powers are in the stage of independent exploration, the only exception is that the United States exported nuclear missiles for ballistic missile nuclear submarines of the United Kingdom, that is, “Polaris” and “Trident II D5”, but the nuclear warheads and re-entry vehicles used by the “Trident II D5 ” supporting the “Vanguard-class” are developed by the United Kingdom independently. It can be seen that the United Kingdom and the United States are also “clearly settled” in terms of nuclear submarines.
However, there are signs of lowering the threshold for the transfer of key technologies for nuclear submarines. AUKUS, which has made a lot of noise among the United States, Britain and Australia, is undoubtedly promoting the opening of “Pandora’s Box”, and France is also helping Brazil to develop fast attack nuclear submarines.
The world situation is becoming more and more tense. Whether it is an aircraft carrier or a nuclear submarine, some countries that have the power will step up to launch and buy whatever they can.