Navy chief defends Gorshkov deal after CAG raps govt

Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta

"I can't comment on the CAG. But you all are defence analysts, can you get me an aircraft carrier for less than USD two billion? If you can, I am going to sign a cheque right now," Mehta told reporters on the sidelines of the 'Naval Self Reliance Seminar' organised by CII.

In its report, the CAG had noted that till 2008 the escalated cost of the aircraft carrier was about USD 1.82 billion and another USD 522 million for the sea trials, which was originally pegged at USD 27 million in the 2004 contract.

India had bought the 45,000-tonne Gorshkov from Russia in January 2004 at a total cost of USD 974 million, which included its refit and repair.

The Russians have thrice revised the price of the Admiral Gorshkov since 2007 and have made a final demand of additional USD 2.9 billion this February. India is carrying out final price negotiations with Moscow and is willing to pay around USD 2.2 billion for the ship.

During the Question Hour in Rajya Sabha yesterday, Defence Minister A K Antony had said that the Government would agree to a fresh price for the warship only after going through the audit report

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