The Indian Navy’s plan to have a carrier battle group each on the east and west coast of the country has suffered a fresh setback.
The delivery of Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov to the Indian Navy, originally meant for 2008, has been further delayed by several months. This time the delay has been caused by technical troubles detected with its engines during the ongoing sea trials.
Following delays to the original plan, the aircraft carrier, renamed INS Vikramaditya, was to be handed over by December 4 this year.
However, navy sources and reports from Russia said the delivery may now take place only by the second half of 2013. The aviation trials aboard the carrier, with MIG-29K fighters, is also going on as scheduled, sources said. There have been 40 sorties from the ship so far.
Russian daily Kommersant reported that three of the eight boilers of the 44,500-tonne ship were detected to be malfunctioning and they were not able to reach their full capability. It said the air carrier would be ready for delivery only by October 2013.
Sources said the ship would now be brought back to the Sevmash shipyard in Russia for detailed examination and repair works. Russian media report said the boilers were malfunctioning because they avoided using asbestos, on India’s insistence, for protection from heat.
The delay is the latest twist in the long, and often controversial, Indian effort to acquire Admiral Gorshkov, one of the last aircraft carriers built by the erstwhile Soviet Union. India and Russia had signed a contract for the carrier’s repair and overhaul in 2004. The $947 million deal was renegotiated to $2.3 billion much later, despite protests against the huge hike.