India will have its first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) fully operational by 2022, said Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh on Tuesday, adding that the IAC will operate with the MiG-29K.

Speaking at an annual press conference ahead of the Navy Day celebrations on December 4, Admiral Karambir said that the Navy’s long-term plan is to have three aircraft carriers in the fleet.

“As the Navy Chief, I am convinced that the country needs three aircraft carriers so that two are operational at all times. We think it should be 65,000 tonnes with electromagnetic propulsion,” he said.

Singh further stated that 50 warships and submarines are under construction of which 48 are on order in Indian shipyards.

Karambir also informed that the Letter of Acceptance (LoA) from the US for 24 MH-60R multi-role helicopters is here and the deal is expected to be signed anytime soon.

On Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) for the Navy, the chief said that the force was the first to support LCA.

“Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) now wants to give us twin-engine deck-based aircraft and if it meets our timelines and requirements, we will take it,” he said.

Admiral Karambir Singh further asserted that the Navy is fully prepared to deal with national security challenges.

“We are putting our defence and security in place to ensure that threats from terror groups like al-Qaeda are thwarted. I want to assure that Navy along with the Coast Guard and other security agencies are ready to face any challenge,” Singh said.

He said the Indian Navy has thwarted 44 piracy attempts and apprehended 120 pirates during its anti-piracy operations.

On China-Pakistan Navy exercise in North Arabian Sea, Singh said China and Pakistan are scheduled to hold an exercise and to take part in this exercise their vessels must have entered the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

On the appointment of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Singh said: “My expectation is that the CDS is suitably empowered to carry out all the decisions. Prime Minister has taken a historic decision…”

Karambir Singh also revealed at the press briefing that the Navy’s share in the defence budget has declined in the last few years. “From 18 per cent in 2012 it has come to 12 per cent in 2018,” he said.

Singh also said that the presence of China in the Indian Ocean region is increasing and India is constantly watching it. He said that seven to eight Chinese ships are usually present in IOR.