New Delhi announced it finally has struck a deal with Russia over the price for refitting the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, but the two countries continue to disagree on the price of MiG-29K aircraft that will arm the carrier.
“RSK MiG of Russia has quoted a price of around $35 million per piece of MiG-29K, whereas the Indian Defence Ministry has calculated the reasonable price to be around $28 million,” a ministry official said Dec. 2.
The same official disclosed that New Delhi has decided to concede to Russian Aircraft-building Corporation MiG (RSK MiG) by offering to buy 46 MiG-29K aircraft in place of its initial order of 16.
“The purpose of the extension in the order for the MiG-29K to the Russians is to help them reduce the cost, as the developmental cost of the aircraft constitutes a large portion of the price,” the Defence Ministry official said.
New Carrier for New Delhi
Indian Defence Ministry officials confirmed Dec. 4 that New Delhi and Moscow, after three years of negotiations, had agreed that India will pay $666.6 million for the retired aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov to be refitted by SevMash Enterprise, Severodvinsk, Russia. Russia in 2000 offered the ship to India free of cost provided India paid for its refitting in Russia. Talks on the carrier dealbegan 10 years ago.
The ship will enter service with the Indian Navy in four or five years, service chief Adm. Madhavendra Singh said.
The Indian government in April selected Russia’s MiG-29K naval aircraft, manufactured by RSK MiG, for the Admiral Gorshkov, rejecting the Rafale-M offered by Dassault Aviation, Vaucresson, France. Though the Navy wanted to buy the Rafale-M, it was rejected because it requires a ski-jump launch system, one Indian Navy official said, while the MiG-29K uses a catapult mechanism like that on the Gorshkov.
The Navy earlier decided not to buy another Russian competitor,the larger Sukhoi Su-33, because fewer of the planes would fit on the Gorshkov’s deck.
If the Navy acquires the MiG-29K, it will become the first operator of the aircraft, which is a prototype.
However, the Navy official agreed with other service officials who said Dec. 2 that Russia would not be able to meet the supply schedule for the MiG-29K, which currently exists only on the drawing board.
The Navy official noted that, since the plane has not been built yet, even the October 2000 acquisition agreement between India and Russia included a rider to the effect that the purchase of the plane would be “subject to satisfactory negotiations.”
A diplomat at the Russian Embassy here, however, expressed optimism that the deal would be finalized, noting that price negotiations are routine and that Russia in the past has reduced prices in the second round of bidding.
And the Indian Defence Ministry official said, “We have asked the Russians to make a revised bid for the MiG-29K aircraft.”
RSK MiG’s representative here, Mikhail Globenko, said Dec. 2 that a formal memorandum of understanding on the MiG-29K’s final price will be signed soon, but he did not give details.