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Russia may sell more MiG-29K carrier fighters to India

25.09.2008 Source: en.rian.ru

The Neustrashimy (Fearless) frigate from the Baltic Fleet left the main naval base in Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad on Wednesday on an unspecified long-range patrol mission, a Navy spokesman said.

"The Neustrashimy will carry out a number of missions at sea," Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said, without giving further details.

He also did not comment on whether the warship will join a Russian task force heading to the Caribbean to participate in joint naval exercises with Venezuela.

A naval task force from Russia's Northern Fleet, comprising the nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy (Peter the Great), the large ASW ship Admiral Chabanenko, and support ships departed on September 8 on a tour of duty in the Atlantic Ocean, including joint naval drills with the Venezuelan navy in November.

The Neustrashimy is the only Project 1154 Yastreb class missile frigate in active service with the Russian Navy to have been built before the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is designed as a general purpose ASW ship to follow on from the Krivak class frigates and incorporates some 'stealth' technology.

The ship's armament includes SS-N-25 Switchblade anti-ship missiles, SA-N-9 Gauntlet SAM, a 100-mm gun, torpedoes and depth charges.

The frigate also carries a Ka-27 ASW helicopter.

Talks on additional deliveries of MiG-29K Fulcrum-D carrier fighters to India will start in the near future, the president of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation said Wednesday.

Russia and India signed a contract on January 20, 2004, stipulating the delivery of 12 single-seat MiG-29K and four two-seat MiG-29KUB by 2009, to be deployed on the Admiral Gorshkov, currently being retrofitted in Russia for the Indian Navy.

There is an option in the contract to supply an additional 30 fighters by 2015.

"The negotiations on the Admiral Gorshkov delivery will end sooner or later, and we hope in the near future to start talks on additional delivery of MiG-29K fighters to India," Alexey Fyodorov said.

However, the head of Russia's state technology corporation, Sergei Chemezov, said that it was premature to talk about a deadline for the Admiral Gorshkov delivery.

"The evaluation of additional work on Admiral Gorshkov modernization has not been done yet and it is too early to hold talks on the completion," he said.

India, one of the biggest buyers of Russian weaponry, has been upset by a series of delays in Russia's reconfiguration of the Admiral Gorshkov from a vertical-takeoff platform into a classic aircraft carrier.

After long-running delays and disputes, Russia and India agreed in February to raise refit costs for the aircraft carrier, berthed at the Sevmash shipyard in north Russia for the past 12 years.

The carrier, renamed the Vikramaditya, is to replace India's INS Viraat carrier, which although still operational is 50 years old.

India agreed the $1.5 billion deal for the Admiral Gorshkov in 2004. Moscow has since demanded an additional $1.2 billion, which New Delhi replied was "exorbitant."

The contract to deliver the Admiral Gorshkov to India, signed by state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport with the Indian Navy, covers the modernization of the ship and equipping it with modern weaponry, including MiG-29K Fulcrum aircraft and Ka-27 Helix-A and Ka-31 Helix-B anti-submarine helicopters.

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