India eyes US F-18 fighters for Russian-built Admiral Gorshkov

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Moscow, May 22 (UNI) The Indian Navy has asked the US aircraft manufacturer Boeing for the use of its F-18 Super Hornet supersonic carrier-based fighter aircraft on board its Russian-built heavy aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov to be renamed INS Vikramaditya, Russian daily Izvestia said today.

A Boeing spokesman confirmed that his company had received a request from India for use of the fighters on board the heavy aircraft carrier.

Russia was to start deliveries of MiG-29K Fulcrum-D carrier fighters to India for the Admiral Gorshkov in May.

The contract, signed in January 2004, stipulated the delivery of 12 single-seat MiG-29Ks and four two-seat MiG-29KUBs by 2009, to be later deployed on the Admiral Gorshkov, currently being retrofitted in Russia for the Indian Navy.

A MiG spokesman denied any knowledge of negotiations between the Indian Air Force and Boeing, RIA Novosti reported.

Russian military experts said using F-18 Super Hornets on the Admiral Gorshkov would pose difficulties.

After long-running delays and disputes, Russia and India agreed in February to raise refit costs for the aircraft carrier, berthed at the Sevmash shipyard in north Russia for the past 12 years.

The carrier was to replace India's INS Viraat, which although still operational was 50 years old.

India contracted the 1.5 billion dollar Admiral Gorshkov for its navy in 2004. Moscow has since demanded an additional 1.2 billion dollars, a sum New Delhi has called exorbitant.

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