Russia to hand over INS Vikramaditya to India in November

Russia will hand over the much-delayed INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier to India in November, giving the country's navy a strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean region.

The Vikramaditya aircraft carrier is to be handed over to the Indian Navy in November, 2013, head of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, Alexander Fomin, said yesterday.

"The ship is to be put in a dock in April, go on sea trials in June and July and be officially handed over some time in November," he said.

The Vikramaditya was originally built as the Soviet Project 1143.4 class aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov.

The Vikramaditya, which is already years past its original 2008 delivery date, was supposed to have been handed over on December 4, 2012, but sea trials in September revealed the ship's boilers were not fully functional.

The Vikramaditya then returned to the shipyard to fix the problems that were detected during the sea trials.

The ship demonstrated excellent seaworthiness, speed of 27.9 knots (about 52 kilometres per hour) and manoeuvrability during the three-month sea trials.

The ship sailed for more than 12,000 miles, with 517 flights performed from its deck by aircraft and helicopters.

Russia's Northern Fleet aviation was involved in the sea trials, aircraft and helicopters flew around and over the ship in order to check its radar, air defence, communication and control systems.

Under a package inter-governmental agreement signed in New Delhi in January 2004, the body of the Admiral Gorshkov was transferred to India for free, subject to its upgrading at Sevmash, a Russian shipbuilding company, and armament with Russian aircraft.

Russia will also train the Indian crew of about 1,500 and create an infrastructure for the ship in the Indian Ocean.

The overall cost of the contract was estimated at $1.5 billion, of which about 974 million were intended for the conversion of the ship into a full-scale aircraft carrier.

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