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Russian aircraft carrier ready in 2012 if India pays $2 bln more

14.11.2008 Source: en.rian.ru

The Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier could be handed over to the Indian Navy in 2012 if Delhi provides sufficient funding for the project, the director of a Russian shipyard said on Thursday.

"Construction of the ship will be completed in 2010 and tests will start in 2011, while in 2012 it will be transferred to the Indian Navy," Sevmash chief Nikolai Kalistratov said, stressing that it would only be handed over if Delhi provided sufficient funding to complete the construction.

Another shipyard executive said the market dictated that India should pay a further $2 billion.

"The market price of such an aircraft carrier varies between $3 billion and $4 billion. The ongoing maintenance and upgrade makes up 60-70% of the new carrier's cost. This is about $2 billion," said Sergei Novoselov, deputy general director of Sevmash.

A source in Russian Defense Ministry said that if India failed to foot the bill, the carrier could be given to the Russian Navy.

"If India does not pay up, we will keep the aircraft carrier," he said.

Kalistratov said the aircraft carrier was 49% complete and would be floated out before the end of this week so construction could be completed in a wet dock.

The original $750 million contract to deliver the Admiral Gorshkov to India, which Russia's state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport signed with the Indian Navy in 2004, projected the work would be completed in 2008.

However, Russia later claimed it underestimated the scale and the cost of the modernization and demanded an additional $1.2 billion, which New Delhi said was "exorbitant."

After long-running delays and disputes, Russia and India agreed in February to raise retrofit costs for the aircraft carrier, docked at the Sevmash shipyard in northern Russia for the past 12 years, by at least $800 million.

The current contract covers a complete overhaul 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.

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

After modernization, the carrier is expected to be seaworthy for 30 years.

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