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PM raises Gorshkov aircraft carrier issue with Russia


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrive for a meeting in Moscow on Friday. Photo: PTI

MOSCOW (PTI): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has raised with Russia the issue of delay in the delivery of Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier to the Indian navy, saying it was important for India that the ship arrives in time.

The Gorshkov issue was raised by the Prime Minister during the 12th Indo-Russian Summit talks with President Dmitry Medvedev at the Kremlin here on Friday.

Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told newsmen that both India and Russia were clear that they would take necessary action to ensure there was "no slippages" in the delivery of the aircraft carrier which will be rechristened 'INS Vikramaditya'.

Mathai said Singh told Medvedev that "it is very important for us (India) that the ship arrives in time."

According to the Russian side, the delivery would be delayed till 2012.

The 44.5-thousand tonner Kiev class aircraft carrier was to be initially commissioned as INS Vikramaditya in August this year under the USD 1.5 billion deal signed in January 2004, which included the refit of the vessel and supply of 16 MiG-29K fighters.

Sea going and flying trials of the refitted aircraft carrier will be conducted by the Russian crew trained on the 'Admiral Kuznetsov' aircraft carrier in service with the Russian Navy.

Russia started seeking more price for the warship around 2008, citing additional cost of repair for retrofitting the carrier ship.

After protracted negotiations, the two sides had settled on USD 2.3 billion as the price for the second hand warship.

India has also signed a contract for deploying 16 MiG 29Ks on the warship and a majority of them have already been inducted into the navy at its INS Hansa air base in Goa.

With only a lone aircraft carrier INS Virat being operated now, the Russian-origin warship is key to India's plan of having one aircraft carrier each on both the seaboards.

Construction of another indigenous aircraft carrier is going on in Kochi and it is expected to be inducted into the navy by the end of 2014.

Indian navy pilots are expected to leave for Russia for training three months ahead of Gorshkov's expected delivery schedule of December 2012 for practising take offs and arrested landings at the aircraft carrier.

An element of Kamov-31 anti-submarine and airborne early warning systems will also be deployed on the aircraft carrier.

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