August 18, 2017
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Sharpening paws
INS Vikramaditya repair work may suffer hurdles

India is planning to upgrade INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier to give it a special capability to hit the targets with more accurately and high level of lethality but the whole plan may suffer hurdles due to internal problems of Russia.

Russian companies are keen to undertake the contract of armament repair job for the INS Vikramaditya carrier but the sliding economic situation in Russia is not in favor of the whole plan as inflation is life time high in Russia.

Therefore, the apprehension is Russian companies may not be able to carry out necessary jobs on time and with the price negotiation which has been done by both sides.

Now the Indian side is asking the Russian companies to do the armament repair job in India only in cooperation with the Indian private companies or alone depending upon the suitability.

Russian shipbuilders and naval companies have off late shown interests to work in India forming joint ventures with Indian companies such as Ambani Group and others.

The total deal for armament repair job could stand at USD 180 million but it may increase if Indian Navy goes for further improvement in the operational portfolios.

Earlier, Rosoboronexport and Russian equipment suppliers have already submitted their reports about the job profile after the past warranty agreement had lapsed.

Russia has promptly responded to Indian Navy request that armament repair job is a critical job and the Russian Defence Ministry claims that only Russians have the capability to undertake it quickly.

“Most other countries who may bid for the tender will face severe problems as it is a heavy carrier and the defensive and offensive operational capability should not be compromised at any cost,” said a Russian expert who earlier dealt with the subject.

Indeed, the one-year warranty service had expired on November 16 in 2014, although Moscow had assured of extension of all support for any future needs.

But even before the expiration, the Indian side has been thinking about how to extend the business relationship with the Russian shipyard and to agree on the service support for the aircraft carrier for its entire life cycle, which is at least 20 years.

INS Vikramaditya is a Kiev class aircraft carrier which was commissioned by Russian Navy in 1987 under the name Baku.

It was later renamed as Admiral Gorshkov and last sailed in 1995 in Russia, before being offered to India.

India agreed to buy it in 2004 for $974 million. The cost kept shooting up as Russia delayed the delivery by over five years.

The carrier has already gone through weapons and air fleet integration with the Indian Navy and its air wing consists of 30 MiG 29K aircraft and six Kamov helicopters.

Indian Navy has gone for advanced versions of MiG 29K in view of its operational demand in recent years which is stretching from Indian Ocean to Pacific Ocean.

The carrier-based MiG-29K and MiG-29KUB jets are generation 4++ multirole aircraft, designed for fleet air operations, achieving air supremacy and hitting surface targets on water and land with precision-guided weapons, by day or night, in any weather conditions.

Lot of changes have taken place in INS Vikramaditya as the aircraft has an improved airframe with a high composite material content, quadruple-redundant fly-by-wire flight controls, significantly reduced visibility in the radar spectrum, an increased fuel capacity and combat load, and open avionics architecture.

Now India is keen to improve the over all performance of the carrier to meet its future demands and ensure smooth operational readiness in the rough seas.