New Delhi: Aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (ex-Admiral Gorshkov) will be delivered to the Indian Navy by the end of 2008 as scheduled, defence minister AK Antony informed the Parliament. According to the defence minister, the Russian side has assured the Government at the highest level that the ship will be delivered as per the agreed timetable.
The aircraft carrier is currently undergoing necessary repairs / modifications at a Russian shipyard. The project is being closely monitored by the empowered apex committee headed by the defence secretary and the steering committee headed by the controller of warship production and acquisition.
The defence minister's response comes in the wake of media reports about a likely two-year delay in the acquisition of the aircraft carrier, according to which delivery was likely to be pushed back to 2010 because of cabling problems. The carrier is due to replace the long serving INS Viraat.
Upgrade plans involve stripping all weaponry from the ship's foredeck, and converting her from a hybrid carrier/cruiser to a pure carrier. The carrier is due to operate the modified naval versions of the MiG-29 (K) and the LCA Tejas aircraft.
In a package deal, the Indian Navy has also contracted to purchase up to 30 MIG 29K (Product 9.41) aircraft, six Kamov Ka-31 Helix attack, reconnaissance and anti-submarine helicopters, torpedo tubes, missile systems, and artillery units, costing an additional US$800 million. The ship will be operated in a STOBAR (Short Take-Off But Assisted Recovery) configuration, with a 14-degree ski-jump on the bow and three arrestor wires on the stern.
All reconfiguration work is being completed at the Severomorsk shipyard.