loans $250 mn for Gorshkov work
By Gulshan Luthra
New Delhi, Sep 8 (IANS) The Russian government has loaned
$250 million to the Sevmash shipyard to ensure that rebuilding
work on aircraft carrier Gorshkov - to be operational as INS
Vikramaditya under the Indian Navy - continues without any
Although the Russian government has demanded an additional
$1.2 billion from India for the 45,000 tonne Gorshkov, it
extended the credit to the shipyard - where the vessel has
been lying for 12 years - as an interim measure till an agreement
with India is finalised, according to a report in the coming
issue of the India Strategic defence magazine.
The Russian government has also asked the yard to ensure that
there were adequate personnel to continue work on the ship,
which has been disrupted for several reasons, including lack
of funds, wear and tear of assets, and a shortage of trained
personnel, many of whom had left to join other companies.
Sevmash, located in arctic Russia, has now recruited workers
and engineers from across Russia and at the same time abandoned
some other projects, including a floating nuclear plant, to
ensure that the work on the much-delayed Gorshkov project
does not suffer any more.
The main hull work on the vessel is already done, and new
equipment is being installed while the interior re-planning
is under way. Indian officials continue to be posted at the
generally wintry yard to monitor the work and to make sure
that it is in accordance with the Naval Staff Requirements,
or specifications drawn up by the Naval Headquarters in New
Work would continue in full swing till November when the cold
sets in, but the effort would be to maintain the pace.
Contracted for acquisition in 2004 at a cost of $750 million,
inclusive of the refit and 16 Mig 29K shipboard aircraft,
Gorshkov should have been delivered in 2008, but will now
be ready only in 2011 for sea trials. Ka-28 ASW and Ka-31electronic
surveillance helicopters and onboard sensors are part of the
The Russians are delivering the Mig 29Ks from 2009, however,
and Indian pilots would start training on them, initially
in Russia and later in India. It takes roughly five years
to train a pilot from the beginning and as these aircraft
would be available well in time, this would give the naval
pilots ample opportunity to be fully operational on them and
be ready from Day One when the aircraft carrier comes under
the Indian flag.
The vessel is also being designed to connect with other aircraft
with Indian forces, and the onboard electronics package has
accordingly been worked out in that configuration. The exact
weapons package, including the capability to fire the Indo-Russian
BrahMos cruise missiles, will be finalised some time later
Notably, the sea trials will take one year, and in 2012 end
or 2013, Gorshkov will really be operational as INS Vikramaditya
under the Indian Navy flag.
The Russian demand for more money is beyond the original contract,
but the Indian government has agreed in principle to pay more
as a gesture of goodwill towards an old and reliable friend.
But how much, that is still being worked out.
The India Strategic report says that the final payment
could be in accordance with how the Russians have itemised
the additional expenditure they are demanding.
Moscow has said the additional demand was made as the Sevmesh
shipyard had miscalculated the costs in refurbishing the ship.
The Gorshkov project is also seen by many as a test of Sevmash's
ability to build aircraft carriers, and its success will be
of key importance in deciding whether the shipyard will be
chosen to build advanced carriers for Russia.
The project is important not only to maintain good relations
with the Indian Navy but is also an exercise in reality checks
now as Moscow has decided to build six large aircraft carriers
for the Russian Navy in a resurgence of what was once the
Soviet naval might.
The ship is named after the famous architect of the Soviet
Navy during the Cold War, Admiral Sergei Georgievich Gorshkov,
who was also instrumental in giving missiles to the Indian
Navy, as also a nuclear submarine - INS Chakra - albeit for
The Indian Navy has sanction for two more aircraft carriers,
one of which is under construction at the Cochin shipyard.
The decision for the third vessel is yet to be finalised.