The conclusion of a long-awaited deal for India’s acquisition of a retired Russian aircraft carrier means that the Indian Navy, due to decommission its only existing carrier in a couple of years, will add two to its fleet by 2010, the service’s chief said Dec. 6.
The details of the Navy’s acquisition of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov were concluded last week, with both New Delhi and Moscow agreeing to the price tag of $666.6 million, Indian Navy chief Adm. Madhvendra Singh said. Negotiations for the ship, which will be refitted in Russia, had dragged on for three years due to differences over the price and other terms. The final deal will be signed during an upcoming, but not yet scheduled, visit here by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.
Singh told Janes.com that the warship, armed with a squadron of MiG-29K aircraft, will be ready for induction in four to five years.
The Admiral Gorshkov will increase the Navy’s force multiplier capabilities multifold, and the service will be able to challenge its potential rivals more effectively, Singh said. The ship’s weapons package includes superior missile systems more capable than any Asian navy today, he added.
Singh also disclosed that by 2010, India’s indigenously built aircraft carrier, known as the Air Defence Ship, will be in service, carrying another squadron of MiG-29K aircraft. The Navy’s MiG-29K fleet will provide the service with a strike-fighting edge and enhanced intercepting capabilities.
The government’s defense acquisition council also has approved the 10-year shipbuilding plan, under which the Navy will order 30 warships from domestic and foreign shipyards, Singh said.
He noted the Navy today faces the daunting task of providing security for 2.1 million square kilometers of sea around India’s coasts, including 1,157 islands under Indian control.
With the beginning of a ceasefire at the India-Pakistan border in Kashmir, Singh predicted India now will face insurgency threats from the sea.
Singh said the Navy’s goal in holding joint exercises with foreign navies this year is to gain experience in curbing activities such as terrorism, transportation of weapons of mass destruction through Indian Ocean shipping lanes, and trafficking of weapons, humans and drugs. In the past year, he said, the Navy conducted joint exercises with 13 foreign navies, including those of the United States, Russia, France and Singapore.