Pay $2 bn more for Admiral Gorshkov: Russia to India

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{image-Admiral Gorshkov_14112008.jpg}Moscow, Nov 14: Russia has asked India to pay two billion dollars more for complete modernisation of heavy aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, in order to deliver it to the Indian Navy in 2012.

''Construction of the ship will be completed in 2010 and tests will start in 2011, while in 2012 it will be transferred to the Indian Navy,'' the General Director of Russian shipyard Shevmash Nikolai Kalistratov told RIA Novosti news agency on Thursday, Nov 13. Kalistratov said, ''It would only be handed over if New Delhi provided sufficient funding to complete the construction of the carrier.'' Another senior-level official of the shipyard said the market dictated that India should pay a further two billion dollars. ''The market price of such an aircraft carrier varies between three billion dollars and four billion dollars. The ongoing maintenance and upgrade makes up 60-70 per cent of the new carrier's cost. This is about two billion dollars,'' Deputy General Director of Sevmash Sergei Novoselov said.

An official in Russian Defence Ministry said if India failed to foot the bill, the carrier could be given to the Russian Navy. ''If India does not pay up, we will keep the aircraft carrier,'' the agency quoted him as saying. Kalistratov said the aircraft carrier was 49 per cent complete and would be floated out before the end of this week so construction could be completed in a wet dock.

The original 750 million dollar contract to deliver Admiral Gorshkov to India was signed with the Indian Navy in 2004. Under the contract, the project was to be completed in 2008.

However, Russia later claimed it underestimated the scale and the cost of the modernisation of the carrier and demanded an additional 1.2 billion dollars.

Last February, Russia and India agreed to raise retrofit costs for the aircraft carrier, docked at the Sevmash shipyard in northern Russia for the past 12 years, by at least 800 million dollars.

The current contract covers a complete overhaul of the ship and equipping it with modern weaponry, including MiG-29K Fulcrum aircraft and Ka-27 Helix-A and Ka-31 Helix-B anti-submarine helicopters. The 45,000-ton Admiral Gorshkov is to be commissioned in the Indian Navy as INS Vikramaditya.


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