Delivery of 'Gorshkov' likely to delay: Pallam Raju

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Kakinada, Jan 20 (UNI) Union Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju today said the delivery of aircraft carrier 'Gorshkov' from Russia, scheduled for 2009, was likely to be delayed.

Talking to UNI here, Mr Raju said ''Russia is not in a position to deliver the carrier as scheduled owing to changes in its supply channels.'' He said ''the disintegration of erstwhile USSR has affected its military supply system as various arms manufacturing units are located in other places, which got separated from the USSR.'' The Minsiter said ''Our country has reduced dependency on Russia for arms and has opened doors to other countries like the UK, France, the US and Israel.'' On increase in accidents of training aircraft, reportedly due to substandard spares, Mr Raju said the accident rate had come down drastically due to effective measures taken by the Defence Ministry.

Under the defence plan of action, he said India should have at least three aircraft carriers--two on east, west coasts and another standby.

''At present INS Virat, the lone aircraft carrier, is taking care of the country's needs. We are taking steps to ensure that Russia expedites the supply of 'Gorshkov'. The third aircraft carrier under construction at Cochin shipyard will join the fleet by 2013.'' The Minister said 'INS Jala Aswa', which was added to our fleet recently, was only a landing platform useful for amphibian warfare.

UNI XR/AP AJ MSJ BD1706

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