Russia plans to deliver the overhauled aircraft carrier Vikramaditya to the Indian Navy in the fourth quarter of 2013, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Wednesday after an intergovernmental meeting in New Delhi.
The Vikramaditya, formerly the Russian Navy's Admiral Gorshkov, 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 flaws in the boilers are expected to be fixed at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk by summer 2013,” Serdyukov told reporters in New Delhi.
“The ship will then undergo sea trials and will be delivered to the Indian Navy in the fourth quarter of 2013,” he said.
Indian Defense Minister A. K. Antony said after the meeting with Serdyukov that the ship's prompt delivery to India was a priority.
“All entities involved in modernizing and testing the ship must work hard to complete the work and trials as soon as possible,” he said.
The Indian side did not raise the issue of a possible penalty for the delivery delay during a meeting of the Russian-Indian Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation attended by both defense ministers on Wednesday.
The Indian media have speculated New Delhi may seek more than $100 million in penalty payments from Russia for the latest delays in handing over the refitted aircraft carrier.
India and Russia signed the original $947 million dollar deal in 2005 for the purchase of the carrier, but delivery has already been delayed twice, pushing up the cost of refurbishing the ship to $2.3 billion.
The Vikramaditya was originally built as the Soviet Project 1143.4 class aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov. The Project 1143.4 carriers and a class of destroyers with the same engines suffered a history of boiler failures during their service lives.
The ship was laid down in 1978 at the Nikolayev South shipyard in Ukraine, launched in 1982, and commissioned with the Soviet Navy in 1987. It was renamed after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. In 1994, the Gorshkov sat in dock for a year for repairs after a boiler room explosion. In 1995, it briefly returned to service but was finally withdrawn and put up for sale in 1996.
The ship has a displacement of 45,000 tons, and an endurance of 13,500 nautical miles (25,000 km) at a cruising speed of 18 knots. It will have an air wing consisting of Russian-made MiG-29K jet fighter planes and Kamov Ka-31 early warning radar helicopters.
Some of the MiG-29K fighters have already been delivered to India.