New Delhi: Sea trials of aircraft carrier
Admiral Gorshkov, which is getting a face-lift ahead of its
induction in the Indian Navy, have been postponed for another
five to six months due to the onset of winters in Russia.
"We have to change the trial plans as they can`t be held
during the winters. So, now we will carry out all the trials
to be held in the harbour during the winter and then hold the
sea trials after the winter is over," senior Defence Ministry
sources said on Sunday.
They said the change in trial plans will not affect the
delivery schedule of the aircraft carrier, which India has
procured at a cost of USD 2.33 billion. The project has
already been delayed by over three years.
As per the earlier schedule, the sea trials were to be
conducted starting November but they are now expected to be
held only after February-March timeframe, they said.
The progress of the project was reviewed during the visit
of Defence Minister AK Antony to Russia on October 5 and 6.
The ship is being refitted at Sevmash shipyard in the
Russian White Sea port of Severodvinsk and is expected to be
delivered by December 2012.
The original USD 1.5 billion contract signed in 2004
between Russia`s state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport and
the Indian Navy envisioned that work on the aircraft carrier
would be completed in 2008.
Of the contracted amount, USD 750 million was for the
retrofit of the carrier, docked at the Sevmash shipyard in
northern Russia for the past 12 years.
The balance was for modern weaponry, including MiG-29K
Fulcrum aircraft and Ka-27 Helix-A and Ka-31 Helix-B
Russia later claimed it had underestimated the scale and
the cost of the modernisation and demanded an additional USD
1.2 billion, which New Delhi said was "exorbitant".
India then agreed in 2009 for the USD 2.3 billion price
for the aircraft carrier, which is now rechristened INS