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'Admiral Gorshkov delivery in last quarter of 2013'

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NEW DELHI (PTI): The delivery of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov - rechristened as INS Vikramaditya - would take place in the last quarter of 2013, Defence Minister A K Antony has told the Rajya Sabha.

On whether the government proposes to levy penalties on the Russian side for failing to stick to the delivery schedule, he said, "Liquidated damages clause for delays in delivery is incorporated in the contract. As per contract, LD is to be ascertained and levied within six months of ship's delivery."

India and Russia had signed a USD 947 million deal for 45,000-tonne Gorshkov in 2004. The deal amount was revised later to USD 2.3 billion. The Kiev-class ship was scheduled to reach Indian shores in 2008, but its delivery has been delayed since then.

"As informed by the Russian side, the delivery of the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (Gorshkov), after completion of repairs and sea trials, would be made in the last quarter of 2013," Antony said in response to a query on Wednesday.

The Russian side has been requested to take up necessary measures to ensure delivery of the ship in the last quarter of 2013, the Defence Minister told the House.

The aircraft carrier was subjected to extensive trials for the first time for 108 days from June 8 to September 23, 2012, with a part of the Indian crew on board as part of its training during, he said.

"While a substantial scope of ship's equipment and aviation trials were completed during this period, the main propulsion plant trials to full power could not be completed due to defects encountered on boiler section. Rectification of the defect is likely to take six months," Antony said.

Replying to a separate question on probe into purchase of VVIP choppers, he said, "It has come to the notice of Defence Ministry through several reports, both in Indian and foreign media, that Italian prosecutors had begun a probe into alleged unethical dealings by Finmeccanica, Italy."

Finmeccanica is the parent company of AgustaWestland UK and a contract for procurement of 12 VVIP/ VIP helicopters has been signed with it.

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