Tugboats guide the INS Vikrant as it leaves the Cochin Shipyard after a launch ceremony in Kochi, India, on Monday. When it comes into full service in 2018, India will become the fifth nation to have designed and built its own aircraft carrier.
Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images
With the $5 billion INS Vikrant, India joins a select group of nations that have built their own aircraft carriers. Others include:
Britain's sole aircraft carrier is the HMS Illustrious. It is scheduled to be decommissioned next year and be replaced by the HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is expected to be completed in 2017. Here's the HMS Illustrious:
A Sea King helicopter rests on the flight deck of the HMS Illustrious in London.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
France also has one. Here's the Charles de Gaulle, which is nuclear-powered:
French nuclear aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle floats near Naples, Italy, last year.
Mario Laporta/AFP/Getty Images
Russia has one, too — the Admiral Kuzhetsov:
The Admiral Kuzhetsov during a military exercise in 2005.
Alexey Panov/AFP/Getty Images
The U.S., of course, dwarfs them all combined. It has 10 — along with the largest Navy in the world. Here's the USS George H.W. Bush, which was commissioned in 2009:
An aerial view of the USS George H.W. Bush in Norfolk, Va., in 2009.
Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP
India's unveiling of the INS Vikrant comes a day after the South Asian nation activated the reactor aboard the INS Arihant, believed to be, as Scott wrote on our Two-Way blog, the first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine designed and built outside the Cold War "nuclear club."
The developments give India a much-needed ego boost in its rivalry with neighbor China, whose military capabilities dwarf India's. China defeated India in a brief but bitter border war in 1962.
China has one aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which it unveiled last year. It bought the vessel from Ukraine in 1998. Here's what it looks like:
The Liaoning cruises back to port Oct. 30, 2012, after its first sea trial in Dalian, China.
But China is believed to be working on its own locally built aircraft carrier. It's unclear when that carrier will join the Liaoning.