India depends on Russia for indigenous aircraft carrier too
India may find little room for negotiations after Moscow demanded three times the original price for the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, as its indigenous Air Defence Ship (ADS) is now fully dependent on Russian carrier borne fighters due to delays in DRDO's naval Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project.
With the first prototype of the naval LCA to take flight at the earliest by 2010, India's first indigenous aircraft carrier — christened the Indian Aircraft Carrier (IAC) — will only have Russian MiG 29 K fighters onboard.
The naval LCA project is lagging behind time — even after the prototype flies, it will need a redesign and new engines. The IAC is going ahead as per schedule and the kneel laying ceremony will be held in Koch next week. The 40,000 ton aircraft carrier will be 'launched' into the waters by 2011 and would enter service by 2014.
India is now ordering 29 additional ship borne fighters from Russia for the IAC in a deal expected to be worth $2 billion. These would be in addition to the 16 MiG 29 K fighters that were part of the original deal signed for the Gorshkov in 2004.
With the Gorhskov deal tied up with the fate of the ship borne MiG fighters, India is fully dependant on Russia for both its future aircraft carriers. Experts say that even at blistering pace, the naval LCA will take close to a decade before induction. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Chief Ashok Baweja confirmed that the first Naval LCA will take to the skies only by next year.
India's one aircraft carrier, the INS Viraat, is already past its service life and the Navy has less than ten operational Sea Harrier fighters available for service.