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Aero India 2023

Indian Navy set to induct INS Vikramaditya

SEVERODVINSK, NORTH RUSSIA (PTI): The long- delayed and much awaited USD 2.3 billion aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya will be inducted into the Indian Navy in Russia on Saturday, enhancing India's maritime capabilities.

Defence Minister A K Antony, who is arriving at Severodvinsk, North Russia this evening, will be inducting the aircraft carrier into the force in the presence of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and senior government and naval officials of the two countries.

The aircraft carrier will be inducted in the Indian Navy at the Sevmash Shipyard, Russia's nuclear submarine building centre.

INS Vikramaditya is a Kiev class aircraft carrier which was commissioned by Russian Navy in 1987 under the name Baku.

It was later renamed as Admiral Gorshkov and last sailed in 1995 in Russia, before being offered to India.

The 44,500 tonne warship with a length of 284 metres will have MiG-29K naval combat aircraft along with Kamov 31 and Kamov 28 anti-submarine warfare and maritime surveillance helicopters.

The MiG 29-Ks would provide a significant boost to Indian Navy with their range of over 700 nautical miles, extendable to over 1,900 nautical miles with mid-air refuelling, and an array of weapons like anti-ship missiles, beyond visual range air-to-air missiles and guided bombs and rockets.

After almost nine years of negotiations, the initial USD 1.5 billion contract for retrofitting the aircraft carrier and buying 16 MiG-29K, K/UB deck-based fighters was signed in 2004.

In 1998, to break the deadlock, the government of then Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov had offered the aircraft carrier, currently moored in a White Sea naval base in northern Russia, for free to India, provided New Delhi paid for its repairs and modernisation.

However, lack of due diligence at the time of initial assessment of work led to whopping cost escalation that stalled its refurbishing.

The aircraft carrier deal had become a major irritant in bilateral relations between India and Russia. By the end of 2007, when it became clear that Russia will not deliver the radically redesigned vessel by 2008 deadline, the relations dipped to an all-time low.

However, the two countries inked an additional agreement under which India agreed to pay a higher price for its refit.

Indian officials have conceded that even with the cost escalation, it was a good deal, since a similar vessel would cost not less than double the price in the international market, but nobody makes aircraft carriers for export.

INS Vikramaditya will have a complement of indigenously- built and developed ALH Dhruv choppers along with Sea King helicopters.

With over 1,600 personnel on board, INS Vikramaditya would literally be a 'floating City' with a mammoth logistical requirement of nearly a lakh of eggs, 20,000 litres of milk and 16 tonnes of rice per month.

"With a complete stock of provisions, she (the vessel) is capable of sustaining herself at sea for a period of about 45 days.

"With a capacity of over 8,000 tonnes of load, she is capable of operations up to a range of over 7,000 nautical miles or 13,000km," a Navy release said.

The ship is powered by eight boilers and can achieve top speeds of 30 knots per hour.

"Almost everything on the Vikramaditya is new," Chief Delivery Commissioner of Sevmash shipyard, Igor Leonov said.

Leonov, talking to PTI on the Sevmash, said only 40 per cent hull of the vessel was original while rest was absolutely new.

"The Indian Navy, which always maintained its engineers and technicians on the vessel throughout the refit and modernisation process, took the right decision to change many aggregates, components and entire cabling, instead of their repairs," Leonov, who will lead the onboard Russian guaranty team during the Vikramaditya's almost two-month voyage to its home base on the Western coast of India in Karwar, said.

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