NEW DELHI — India will be without an operational aircraft carrier at least until December as it awaits the delayed delivery of the Russian-made carrier Admiral Gorshkov, and the Navy’s sole carrier, INS Viraat, is still undergoing refit.
Viraat is doing trials after a refit at the state-owned Cochin Shipyard, after which the carrier will be docked at the naval dockyard for repairs to propulsion, boilers and air conditioning systems. Indian Navy sources say the Viraat refit could take another year.
The refit aims to put Viraat into operation for another three to four years by which time the Gorshkov, renamed by India as the Vikramaditya, and the state-owned Indigenous Aircraft Carrier, would be in operation.
The Vikramaditya is expected to be commissioned by December and has been launched for sea trials, said an Indian Navy official.
Meanwhile, China has also decided to add three aircraft carriers by 2016. While one of the carriers, Varyag, was announced by China last year, Beijing is also refitting two aircraft carriers bought from Russia six years back.
Delivery of the Russian carrier was delayed from December 2012 because of propulsion problems during sea trials last year. The Indian Navy had to pay nearly $1.7 billion more than the price contracted in 2005, with the cost now nearly $2.3 billion. The originally scheduled delivery date was in 2008.
The Indian Navy has bought 16 MiG 29K aircraft from Russia to be flown from the carrier, and a contract for the purchase of Kamov helicopters is also being finalized.