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Gorshkov issue to figure in Indo-Russia Def Ministers' meet

NEW DELHI (PTI): Delay in the delivery of Russian-built aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov to Indian Navy will be discussed at a meeting of Defence Ministers of the two countries to be held in New Delhi in the first week of October.

The delivery schedule of the already much-delayed warship slipped further after it encountered engine malfunctions during sea trials in Russia and is now expected to be delivered in the second half of next year.

During the meeting of the India Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation (IR-IGMTC) next month, the issue will come up for discussion, Navy officials said.

In Moscow, Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told news agency RIA Novosti that the carrier issue will be discussed between the two sides next month.

"We plan to discuss our further cooperation in this project with our Indian colleagues at a meeting of the Russian-Indian intergovernmental commission on military- technical cooperation which will be held in Delhi in early October," he said.

The ship, rechristened INS Vikramaditya, was scheduled for commissioning into Indian Navy by December 4 this year but Russian media reports have suggested that it would now be delivered only in October 2013.

Navy officials said so far Russian officials have not communicated the extent of damage caused to the warship due to the malfunctioning of the boilers.

They said India is expected to ask the Russian side to hand over the carrier to the Indian side within the stipulated delivery schedule and carry out the required overhauls within that time frame.

When asked if India could levy penalties on the Russian side for failing to stick to delivery schedules, Indian Navy officials said so far there was no official intimation from the Russian side on this issue of delay in delivery and any step in that direction can be considered only after that.

They, however, said as per the Defence Procurement Procedure, the Defence Ministry can levy such penalties if there are major slippages in delivery schedules.

India, which has a fairly large component of foreign military hardware, is also working towards building an indigenous aircraft carrier which is also delayed by three to four years due to various problems.

The deal for the aircraft carrier was signed with Russia in 2004 but the price of the ship was renegotiated and later put at USD 2.3 billion after repeated cost revision demands by the Russian side for repair and overhaul.

The ship will be part of Indian Navy's plans to operate an aircraft carrier in each of its two seaboards.

At the moment its only operational aircraft carrier is INS Viraat which is in the last leg of its service after undergoing several upgrades.

Admiral Gorshkov was a Kiev-class aircraft carrier laid down in 1978 at Nikolayev South in Ukraine, launched in 1982, and commissioned in 1987.


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