New Delhi: Aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov will be handed over towards the end of next year, Russia said on Wednesday as India conveyed its "serious concern" over the prolonged delay and asked it to adopt a "wartime approach" for ensuring its early delivery.
The issue came up at a meeting here between Defence Minister AK Antony and his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov during which Moscow said the 45,000-tonne aircraft carrier had suffered a "big malfunction" in its engine and could be handed over only in "fourth quarter of 2013".
India had signed the contract for buying the second-hand warship, now rechristened INS Vikramaditya, in 2004 and it was supposed to be delivered in 2009. Due to recurring escalation in price, it was rescheduled to be delivered in December this year but the present problem has pushed it back by almost one more year.
"We have handed over the revised overhaul and transfer schedule to the Indian side and we believe that transfer of the ship will take place in the 4th quarter of the 2013," Serdyukov told reporters at the joint press conference after the meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation (IR-IGMTC).
"The ship encountered big malfunction with the main power plant and the boiler. Right now the ship is relocated to the factory," he said on the present status of the carrier and hoped that it would be ready for sea trials by April next year.
On the delay in the warship reaching Indian waters, Antony said early delivery of the aircraft carrier was important for India.
"In all the meetings, we have conveyed serious concern about the delay. In the restricted and various other meetings, I myself have talked about the serious concern over the delay," he said.
Antony said he has "suggested that all agencies involved in trials and delivery of the warship must hereafter adopt a wartime approach to complete the trials so that delivery can be as early as possible."