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Talks over Gorshkov's price likely to conclude: Naval chief

Aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov at a plant in Russia. A File Photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta Thursday said negotiations between India and Russia over price of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov could be concluded within next two days.

"Price negotiations are on with the Russian team which is in India. The negotiations committee is discussing it with them. The time frame (for price fixation) is very short, hopefully day after," Mehta told reporters here.

The ongoing negotiations are considered to be the last leg of the talks between the two countries on the cost of Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier -- repair, refit and the final price of the warship, which is expected to be somewhere between USD 2.2 billion and USD 2.9 billion.

India had bought Admiral Gorshkov in 2004 for USD 964 million and sent it for refit to the Sevmash Shipyard in Russia. That apart, India also bought 16 MiG-29Ks to operate on the warship at a cost of USD 650 million.

Russia has thrice revised the price of the aircraft carrier, first demanding additional USD 1.5 billion in 2007, then revising it to USD 2.2 billion in 2008 and finally asking for USD 2.9 billion this February.

Commenting on the need for more aircraft carriers, Mehta said it was Navy's desire to have three aircraft carriers and it was working towards that.

Meanwhile, talking about the indigenous nuclear submarine project, he said that INS Arihant was a part of the project and work on more submarines will continue.

On the Scorpene submarine project, he said that the programme was facing some problems, which would be resolved soon.

Talking about the crash of the naval Sea Harrier jump jet over Goa on Tuesday, Mehta said the fleet of the aircraft was "not grounded" but the jump-jets were not flying as they were undergoing certain mandatory checks before they start flying again.

On the progress made in the indigenous ship building programme, the Naval chief said the Navy has started the sea trials of the Shivalik class frigate in Mumbai and the ship would be commissioned in next "four to six weeks.

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