INS Vikramaditya to arrive in India early next year
After a long wait
While the Navy hopes to install the air-defence gun within a few months after the warship’s arrival, installation of the missile system would take more time as it is still under development.
The 45,000-tonne aircraft carrier, originally known as Admiral Gorshkov, is currently undergoing trials at Barents Sea off Russia under the watchful eyes of a team of Indian Navy officers. It is expected to be handed over to India around November-December, a year behind schedule.
When the carrier arrives in Karwar in 2014, it will not have the AK-360 close-in weapon system capable of creating a protective shield around the ship by firing 6,000 rounds per minute.
In addition, the ship would not have the Barak long-range surface-to-air missile that is being co-developed by India and Israel for naval use.
Both the Indian Navy and the Defence Research and Development Organisation are involved in the Rs 2,606-crore development programme, which is scheduled to be
completed by 2015. “The CIWS (AK 360) will be fitted to Vikramaditya on its arrival. But the LR-SAM would be done only at the first refit of the carrier,” Vice-Chief of the Navy Vice-Admiral R K Dhowan said.
The reason for not fitting the CIWS, said an officer, was certain contractual obligations. Moreover, integration at the Russian yard would have shot up the project cost.
The LR-SAM is a different story. Once ready, the missile would be first fitted on to a Kolkata-class destroyer, which is being constructed at Mazgaon dock under Project-15 A. Only after installing the surface-to-air missile to a 15A ship will it be integrated with INS Vikramaditya. Delivery of the first Kolkata-class destroyer, however, is delayed.
The first of the three ships in the Rs 45,000 crore P-15A will be ready only in 2014, though originally it was scheduled to be delivered to the Navy by 2013 end, sources said.
Meanwhile, INS Vikramaditya crossed a speed barrier of 30 knots during the trial. Last year, the Kiev-class aircraft carrier failed to attain its top speed due a technical glitch in the propulsion system.
The trouble happened because of the use of low-grade Chinese firebricks in boiler insulation, instead of asbestos. This prevented Sevmash ship yard from handing over the warship to the Navy on December 4, 2012, as originally scheduled.