(Maybe) A stupid question: is ng-cordova built into the ionic framework?

I understand ng-cordova was created by ionic, but is it included/built-into the ionic framework by default?

Not by default, no.

It is there for anyone who wants to use Cordova plugins, not necessarily for the ones who use the ionic framework.

Foto that homepage of Ionic. Scroll down to the end. There you find the link to ngCordova