'Delays in Indo-Russian defence projects must be excused'

'Delays in Indo-Russian defence projects must be excused'

Though time overruns were "unfortunate," Russian Federation Ambassador to India Alexander M Kadakin said it was the experience in both countries when it came to latest technology defence equipment projects.

"As far as Admiral Gorshkov is concerned, Indians asked us for a state-of-the-art warship and for such a warship, there is a cost. For a cheap price, you can only purchase a 3-carat diamond.

"Now it will be a modern aircraft carrier and if there is a delay of two or three months for delivery, what difference would it make. If you need a potent warship, these delays have to be excused," Kadakin told reporters on the sidelines of an Indo-Russian army exercise that ended here.

India had flagged the delays in critical defence projects such as Gorshkov during the recent bilateral Military Technical Commission meeting between the Defence Ministers of the two countries in New Delhi.

Admiral Gorshkov, which India bought from Russia in 2004, is already behind schedule by two years, having been originally scheduled to be delivered after a refit at the Sevmash naval shipyard in Russia in 2008.

Now the 45,000-tonne warship is rescheduled for delivery in end of 2012 or early 2013, though India coughed up USD 2.33 billion earlier this year after it had bought it for a price of USD 974 million under the original contract.

Kadakin said such experiences existed in both countries and that it should be excused when the project involved sophisticated systems.

"Both countries have this experience that without delays we will not get such sophisticated systems. That is why sometimes this kind of delays do happen. It is unfortunate," he said.

He was replying to a query on delays in major defence projects between India and Russia such as the Admiral Gorshkov, which has been rechristened by Indian Navy as INS Vikramaditya.

The Ambassador, however, refused to talk about India getting the Akula-II nuclear-powered submarine from Russia on a 10-year lease.

"Akula, I do not know anything about it. Lets talk about any other submarine, I do not know anything about this particular submarine. India, I know, is also constructing a (nuclear-powered) submarine. About this submarine (Akula), do not ask me anything, I do not know anything," he said.

India and Russia are believed to have agreed for the former leasing of the Akula-II submarine from the latter beginning next year, primarily to train and operate the nuclear-powered vessel in preparation for the indigenous nuclear-powered Arihant-class vessels that it is building in Vishakapatnam.

The Navy plans to christen the Akula-II submarine as INS Charlie on the first nuclear-powered submarine that Russia had leased to India in late 1980s for three years.

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