Indian Navy delegation in Russia to review ongoing projects
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Last Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2008, 00:00
  
Moscow, Nov 25: A top-level Indian delegation led by Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral P R Suthan is here to review ongoing naval projects, including trials and delivery of Nerpa nuclear attack submarine to be leased to India next year and the refit of the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier.

Vice Admiral Suthan's visit is taking place at a time when New Delhi and Moscow are locked in financial wrangling over the refit of Gorshkov which is far behind the delivery schedule. Russians are demanding additional USD two billion for the refitting and work on the carrier is almost at a standstill.

The Gorshkov cost escalation demand could include hidden costs for the Nerpa nuclear submarines as the purchase of both the systems was taken up as a package deal.

If the deals fall through, Russian Defence Ministry said, it will induct both the vessels into its Navy under the force modernisation programme till 2015 and foot the bill.

The failure of the Gorshkov deal and its larger package including lease of two Akula-II nuclear attack submarines of Project 'Shchuka B' would be a major setback to Indian Navy's strategic plans to project its might in the blue waters and putting in place the nuclear triad of 'credible deterrence'.

The Navy delegation was also on a fact-finding mission following a recent mishap onboard a Nerpa submarine that claimed 20 lives.

Although the Indian Embassy here is tight-lipped about Suthan's Russia trip, the local media has reported about his visit to Yantar Shipyards in Kaliningrad to inspect the ongoing construction of three additional Project 11356 'Krivak IV' class stealth frigate ordered by the Indian Navy under USD 1.6 billion deal.

Earlier, St Petersburg-based Baltiisky Zavod shipyard had built three stealth frigates -- INS Talwar, INS Trishul and now world famous for its successful anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden -- INS Tabar.

"During his visit yesterday Vice Adm. Raman Prem Suthan, was satisfied with the pace and the quality of the construction of the frigates. He expressed hope that the future work will be carried out at the same high standard," Yantar Shipyard spokesman Sergei Mikhailov was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

According to him, beginning from next year the shipyard is to complete the deliveries of the frigates by 2011-12.

Unlike the previous three stealth frigates built in St Petersburg, each additional warship will be armed with eight BrahMos supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles instead of the Club-N/3M54TE missiles.

The visit by the naval delegation came even as shipbuilders blamed the inherent flaws in the Indian variant of central control panel of the Nerpa submarine for the mishap.

They also said "serious work" was required to make its fire-extinguishing system "foolproof".

"New modification of 'Molibden' central control panel is under trial on board the Nerpa (submarine), for the Indian variant. This is a 'raw' system, which even before had malfunctioned," mechanical engineer of the Amur Shipyard Sergei Stolnikov told popular youth daily 'Komsomolskaya Pravda'.

Gennady Bagin, Director of 'Vostok' plant, a unit of Amur Shipyard, said "Molibden-I" (Indian variant), which is a centralised control system of the entire vessel, requires serious improvement, specially its fire-control system and sensors need to be made "foolproof".

Bureau Report


First Published: Tuesday, November 25, 2008, 00:00


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