No delay in delivery of Russian aircraft carrier: navy chief

By IANS, Mumbai : Dismissing reports that the delivery of Soviet-era aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov would be delayed, Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta Tuesday said the carrier would arrive in the Indian waters by 2008-end or early 2009.

“It is as per schedule. It may slip a few months here and there because of the climatic conditions at that time,” Admiral Mehta told reporters after a naval investiture ceremony at INS Kunjali-II, the naval helibase of the Western Naval Command, the sword arm of the Indian Navy, here.

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The Russian aircraft carrier, which is to be renamed INS Vikramaditya, is undergoing refits at shipyards and some reports have indicated that the delivery may be delayed.

The delivery in time assumes importance since the existing carrier INS Viraat is ageing, while the carrier being built at Cochin Shipyard Ltd would take another four to five years to be rolled out.

Talking about fleet augmentation, the chief of naval staff said that as many as 34 ships are in different phases of construction at various shipyards.

Besides this, the navy has also asked for funds from the central government for placing orders and acquiring 40 more ships of different capabilities. It will take another 10 to 15 years for all these vessels to be commissioned.

“This is an ongoing process and we need to scrap certain ageing ships in the fleet to make way for the new ones. The objective is not to get bigger in terms of numbers but smarter in terms of our capabilities,” he said. Once Admiral Gorshkov arrives, it is expected to be stationed at the Karwar base on the Western seaboard because of the huge draft of the new ship.

This floating airfield, according to sources, will have a ski-jump, so that the Sea-Harriers as well as the MiG-29K can operate on board.