NEW DELHI — After four years of delays and rising costs, the Russian-built aircraft carrier known as the Admiral Gorshkov will be commissioned into the Indian Navy’s fleet by the end of this year, India’s defense minister said.
A.K. Antony told the parliament in a written reply March 11 that the aircraft carrier’s commissioning in the Indian Navy is now scheduled in the last quarter of 2013.
“The final cost of the project agreed upon in March 2010 is $2.3 billion,” Antony said. “The reason for increase from the initial cost decided in January 2004 was due to increase in the scope of the repair and modernization work.”
India had to pay $1.7 billion over and above the price contracted for the ship in 2004, when the delivery date was set for 2008. However, the stalemate over the price increase wasn’t resolved until 2011.
The Indian Navy wanted to penalize the Russian shipyard for the delay, but the government couldn’t because the Russians refused to oblige the Indian side during talks between Antony and visiting Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov during a visit here in October.
Last year, the Russian-built carrier was on sea trials from June to September, but problems surfaced with the main propulsion system and the full 108-day trials could not be completed, putting off the date of delivery to late 2013.
The Gorshkov, which was decommissioned by the Russians in 1996, will be known as Vikramaditya in the Indian Navy’s fleet.
The Navy has one 50-year-old aircraft carrier, the Viraat, whose service life has been extended to 2017, when the built-in-India Indigenous Aircraft Carrier joints the fleet.