New Delhi: India and its main arms supplier Russia have ended a protracted dispute over the cost of a Soviet-era aircraft carrier which will be now sold to the Indian navy in 2011, officials said Thursday.
Indian Defence Secretary V. K. Singh, returning from Moscow, said a new undisclosed price-line had been agreed for the 44,570-tonne Admiral Gorshkov.
Russian export firm Rosoboronexport in 2004 signed a deal to refurbish the aircraft carrier for $970 million but last year demanded India pay an additional $1.2 billion.
Singh declined to give details of the negotiations but conceded overnight that “there will be a substantial increase in the ‘reworked estimate" for the modernisation of the 30-year-old ship.
“The figure cannot be disclosed as the modified contract has to be put up to the union Cabinet and the cabinet committee on security for clearance,” he told reporters in New Delhi.
“The modified contract would be signed by March end after teams from Russia visit here to finalise it,” he added.
“There is no question of giving up the carrier and at no time had the Russians said that they wanted to reclaim the carrier.”
Defence sources said India has agreed to pay up to $900 million more for the carrier.
Defence secretary Singh said the Gorshkov, which will be rechristened INS Vikramaditya and join the Indian navy in 2011.
“The warship requires installation of new turbines, boilers, 2,500 kilometres (1,500 miles) of cabling and strengthening of its flight deck as part of the new retro-fitting to be undertaken on the carrier,” he said.
Under the contract the Russian shipyard Sevmash will equip the ship with modern weapons, 16 MiG-29 fighter jets and a fleet of anti-submarine helicopters.