India still negotiating price on aircraft carrier Admiral Gorkshov: Antony

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New Delhi, July 29 (ANI): Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Wednesday informed Parliament that India and Russia are yet to conclude negotiations on the price that Moscow has demanded for the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, and the criticism expressed over the ship's viability will be kept in mind before signing the final contract.

Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Antony said Russia has demanded a substantial increase in the price, but the negotiations so far have been inconclusive, and assured the house that before taking a final decision, the ministry will verify everything, including the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

The CAG's recent report observed that the second-hand carrier would be 60 percent more costly than a new one and that there is a risk of further delay in its delivery.

The original deal signed in 2004, was for India to pay 1.5 billion dollars for the vessel, of this, 948 million dollars was to be spent on refitting the 45,000 tonne vessel and the balance on the MiG-29 combat jets and Kamov anti-submarine warfare helicopters that would be deployed on the ship. Even protracted negotiations, between the Defence Ministers of both countries have failed to resolve the impasse.

Antony explained to members that as the Indian Navy has been on the look out for an aircraft carrier since 1994 from all available sources, it was realized that no country is in a position to sell an aircraft carrier.

Russia then offered the ship as a gift, after paying for its retrofit and the aircraft it will carry, the then government took a decision and the contract was signed in 2004, he added

The CAG report also pointed out that the carrier would have limited operational capabilities and certain key capabilities which would enable it to meet potential threats or challenges had either not been provided for or have been postponed to a later date.

The report said that the anti-aircraft missile complex selected to be fitted in the ship failed during the trials and the refurbishment contract was concluded without the missile system.

The CAG also expressed its concern over the ship not having a Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) which is a vital shipboard weapon for detecting and destroying incoming anti-ship missiles and enemy aircraft at short range until her first refit in India in 2017.

The carrier was scheduled to have been delivered in 2008. This has now been pushed to 2012. (ANI)

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