Aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya
Video courtesy NDTV:
INS Vikramaditya arrives from Russia
Video courtesy Russia website:
25 April 2014
India's Soviet-era Carrier Arrives
A refurbished former Soviet aircraft carrier arrived
Wednesday in India six years late, ending a wrangle
that strained ties with the country's top arms
supplier Russia.The Cold War-era ship, which set
sail from the Russian city of Severodvinsk in
mid-November, was escorted by Indian warships into
Indian waters. A naval spokesman said the INS
Vikramaditya had arrived at Karwar, its home base in
the western state of Karnataka.
Critics have described the Vikramaditya, built as
the Admiral Gorshkov and originally commissioned in
1987, as a white elephant because of its
higher-than-expected price tag and long delays in
arriving. A preliminary pact for refurbishing the
vessel was signed in 1998 -- two years after the
Kremlin mothballed the 44,500-ton carrier. It took
six years for the two sides to reach a final
agreement that valued the deal at $771 million and
stipulated delivery in 2008.
But the cost of refitting the 284-metre (937-foot)
ship ballooned to $2.3 billion, according to Indian
officials. Deadlines were repeatedly extended,
creating a bitter wrangle with Russia. "It came out
costlier than we anticipated," said retired Rear
Admiral Raja Menon, chairman of a strategic unit in
the government's National Security Council. But
Menon told AFP the vessel "signifies a state
presence more than any other warship". Russia
accounts for 70 percent of military hardware for
India which is currently the world's largest arms
importer, according to the Stockholm International
Peace Research Institute.
The Vikramaditya is intended to shore up India's
defences as it seeks to counter a military build-up
by an assertive China. "It was hardly used by the
Soviets so we can expect a good 30 years from it,"
Currently, India has just one aircraft carrier --
the INS Viraat which was also commissioned in 1987
-- and it unveiled an under-construction locally
made carrier in August.
The Vikramaditya has been refurbished with 2,500
tonnes of steel -- enough to build a mid-sized
frigate from scratch -- and will be armed with
Russian MiG-29 fighter jets and Kamov helicopters.
The vessel can carry 8,000 tonnes of fuel to sail
13,000 kilometres (8,060 miles) and sustain a
1,600-sailor crew for 45 days at sea. It has also
been redesigned to dish out traditional Indian
India's navy suffered a severe blow in August last
year when a Russian-made submarine, the INS
Sindhurakshak, exploded while docked in Mumbai and
killed all 18 crewmen aboard.
A team of Russian experts on board the Vikramaditya
will remain in India for a year as part of the
contract to tackle any problems.