NEW DELHI: Delivery of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov to the Indian Navy has been further delayed by several months because of technical troubles with its engines detected during the ongoing sea trials. Originally meant to be delivered to India in 2008, the carrier, renamed INS Vikramaditya, and was to be given by December this year under the revised schedule. However, latest inputs from Navy sources here and reports from Russia said that delivery of the carrier may now take place only by the second half of 2013. This will delay the Indian Navy’s plans to have a carrier battle group around the Gorshkov. A Navy source said the delay could be about six months, but indications are that it could be almost as much as a year. “There is some issue with boilers. The ship has been sailing for 90 days, undergoing sea trials. It is still sailing on its own power,” a Navy source said. 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. India and Russia signed a contract in 2004 for repair and overhaul of the carrier. The $947 million deal was renegotiated to $2.3 billion much later, despite many protesting the huge hike in contract price. The fresh setback to the delivery of the carrier will significantly delay Indian Navy’s plan to have a carrier battle group each on the east and west coast of the country. The only operational carrier of the Navy, INS Viraat, is in the last leg of its service and is only partially effective. The Navy had planned to induct Gorshkov and the 40,000-tonne indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC), under construction in Kochi, over the next several months to build the carrier groups around them. The original plan was to have the two carrier groups by 2015. Besides the latest delay in Gorshkov’s delivery, Navy estimates that the IAC delivery would be at least three years behind the schedule and would be available only by 2018.
Source: Times of India