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Gorshkov talks in final stages, says Navy chief
Published on 2 Dec. 2009 11:47 PM IST
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Indian Navy chief, Admiral Nirmal Verma, Wednesday said negotiations on the price of Russian-built aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov are in the “final stages”. He refused to fix a deadline for the deal. “We are on the final stages of negotiations. Fourth round of negotiations have completed,” Verma told reporters. But on the question whether the deal will be clinched during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Russia visit starting Sunday, Verma said he would not like to put a “time frame” to it. “It is true that the project is behind schedule. But we are working on our programme to seize the delivery of the platform by 2012. It continues to be addressed at every bilateral level. “The work has not come to a stop. It is going on briskly. Adequate resources have put in by the Russians,” Verma told reporters here ahead of the Navy Day Dec 4. According to the initial agreement, the the aircraft carrier was gifted free but India was to pay $974 million to modify and upgrade it to the Indian Navy’s specifications. The balance of the $1.5 billion deal was for the 16 MiG-29 jets and Kamov anti-submarine warfare helicopters that will be deployed on the ship. In 2007, however, the Russians said they had made a mistake in their calculations and demanded another $1.2 billion. Recently, they added another $700 million to the bill, saying the modifications and the subsequent sea trials would be more expensive than estimated earlier. Senior naval officials say that there have been “positive developments” in the negotiations of the aircraft carrier, which will be inducted in the Indian Navy as INS Vikramaditya. “There have been positive developments in the sense that the Russians have agreed to not to escalate the cost further and to justify the price quoted so far,” said a naval officer, requesting anonymity. A 40-member Russian delegation was here in November to discuss the price hike issue. The price negotiations failed to make any headway even during Antony’s visit to Russia in October. The delivery of the aircraft carrier has also been pushed from 2008 to 2012. The ship is being re-fitted at the Sevmash shipyard in north Russia’s Arctic coast. 40 warships, new jets on Indian Navy’s ‘buy’ list The Indian Navy will be acquiring 40 warships and new fighter jets indigenously and from abroad, Admiral Nirmal Verma said Wednesday. Asserting that the navy’s primary role remains the country’s maritime interests, he said the focus had not shifted even after being appointed the nodal agency for coastal security following the Mumbai terror attack that killed 166 people in November last year. “Just because of (the revamped) coastal security, we have not steered away from our role. The task is going on as before and another task (of coordinating coastal security) has been added,” Verma told reporters here. “It has not distracted us from our main task.” He said there were presently 40 ships and submarines on order. “Our preferred choice of inducting ships has been through the indigenous route,” he said. “There are presently 34 ships and submarines on order from Indian shipyards.” While the navy’s main thrust was on indigenisation in building warships, Verma said there was a need to cut down the time taken in ship building. “We want to build (ships) at a certain pace,” he said, adding that the current methodology adopted was more time-consuming than those followed by shipyards in other countries. The navy is acquiring a number of platforms - frigates, destroyers, corvettes, offshore patrol vessels, mini counter vessels, fast interceptors and tankers while finalising design for the landing platform dock on the lines of INS Jalashwa (USS Trenton). Work on the indigenous aircraft carrier was going on with some 10,000 tonnes of steel already in Hull. It is expected to be ready for launch next year ahead of the induction scheduled in 2014. While MiG-29 K will be on the deck of INS Vikramaditya, the naval version of the Light Combat Aircraft is earmarked for the indigenous aircraft carrier. The navy hopes to invite tenders for six Medium Range Maritime surveillance aircraft and is looking for helicopters for its ships.

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