Russian carrier to arrive in two years: Indian Navy chief

March 30th, 2009 - 8:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, March 30 (IANS) Despite “small monetary issues”, the Indian Navy will receive the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov within two years, a top military commander said Monday.
“We hope to have the ship in the next two years. There are certain small monetary issues which are being tackled by the government,” Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta said.

Speaking on the sidelines of a function organised by Goa Shipyard Limited in the port town of Vasco to mark to launch of the largest Indian-built offshore patrol vessel INS Saryu, Mehta said that the process of the carrier’s transfer was “progressing satisfactorily”.

India and Russia had signed a $1.5 billion deal for the Gorshkov, now renamed INS Vikramaditya, in 2005. Of this, some $900 million was meant for retrofitting the ship, which was mothballed after a crippling blaze in 1995, and the remaining was for a squadron of MiG-29 fighters that are to be deployed on the ship.

In 2007, Russia unilaterally raised the price by $1.2 billion and is now demanding $2.9 billion. Defence Minister A.K. Antony has repeatedly expressed confidence the issue would be resolved satisfactorily.

Mehta also spoke of a long-term plan to strengthen the Indian Navy.

“We are looking at a fleet of 160 warships and 300 aircraft by 2022,” he said.

Stating that the Indian Navy was a blue water force in its orientation, Mehta stressed the importance of coastal police stations and marine police units to patrol the coast and work in a cohesive manner with the other maritime forces like the Coast Guard.

This issue has gained added importance in the wake of the Nov 26-29, 2008, Mumbai terror attacks when 10 Pakistani terrorists sneaked into the city via the sea route and spread mayhem that lasted for over 60 hours and claimed the lives of more than 170 people, including 26 foreigners.

Ajamal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive during the carnage, has admitted to being a Pakistani citizen and is currently being tried in a Mumbai court.

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