INS Vikramaditya by 2010?

Viktor Litovkin, RIA Novosti’s military commentator and columnist, has written a column in the current issue of India Strategic. Well, the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta says the delay in the Gorshkov delivery is small, probably just six-seven month. But Litovkin agrees with the Express report that first reported the delay. Anyway, I found this a nice piece with neat new details on the programme and the Fulcrums coming with the Admiral. The text in full:

In early May, an Indian naval delegation headed by Vice Admiral Birinder Singh Randhawa, Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition at the Integrated Headquarters, Ministry of Defence (Navy), visited Severodvinsk, a major submarine construction centre in the Arkhangelsk Region, northern Russia.

In spite of cold temperatures, piercing winds and snowfalls, the visit proved very fruitful. The delegation visited the local Northern Engineering Works (Sevmashpredpriatiye) and inspected the Mk 1143.4 Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, now being refi tted under a bilateral contract. The aircraft carrier, due to be renamed the Vikramaditya after a famous Indian king, is expected to enter service with the Indian Navy in August 2008.

Vice Admiral Randhawa was very pleased with the visit’s results and noted many changes in the warship’s upper-deck structures and interior. Although the Admiral Gorshkov’s modernisation is somewhat behind schedule, Mr Randhawa said this extremely diffi cult project would face problems from time to time. But he said he saw that Sevmashpredpriatiye was doing its best to solve them in time.


On December 26, 1978, the keel of the Mk 1143.4 Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier was laid at the Nikolayev shipyard in Ukraine. The 273-metre long warship displaces 48,500 tonnes, has a beam of 49 metres and a 10.2-metre draught. The carrier can cruise along at 30.7 knots, has a 30-day sea endurance and a 1,610-man crew.

She entered service with the Soviet Navy in December 1987 and was assigned the task of guarding strategic missile submarines. For that purpose, the Admiral Gorshkov operated 14 Yakovlev Yak-141 Freestyle vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) fi ghters, eight Yak-38 Forger VTOL fi ghters, as well as 16 Kamov Ka-25 and Ka-252RLD Hormone and Ka-252PS Helix anti-submarine warfare (ASW), reconnaissance and search-and-rescue helicopters. Moreover, the aircraft carrier, which supported warship formations and naval strategic bombers in combat areas, was supposed to attack enemy aircraft, warships and submarines. For this purpose the Admiral Gorshkov had 12 Bazalt anti-ship missile launchers, six tentube Udav-1 anti-submarine rocket mortars, four torpedo tubes, as well as four Klinok air-defence systems comprising 24 launchers, two 100-mm AK-100 guns and eight 30-mm AK-630 anti-aircraft guns. However, it turned out that VTOL fi ghters did not correspond to specifications, carried small ordnance loads, had a short combat range and crashed rather often.

The disintegration of the Soviet Union and subsequent financial shortages made it impossible to eliminate thesedrawbacks. These warplanes were scrapped, and the Admiral Gorshkov had to be berthed. The warship could have suffered the same sorry fate as her sister ships, namely, the Kiev, the Minsk and the Novorossiisk, that also carried Yakovlev fi ghters, and which were eventually sold for scrap.

However, the Indian Navy took an interest in the Admiral Gorshkov and therefore prevented her destruction. Moscow and New Delhi negotiated the carrier modernisation contract for many years. The Indian side insisted that Russia charge less for overhauling the Admiral Gorshkov. According to some rumours, the warship was sold to India as scrap metal, that is, for $150-200 per tonne. Moreover, New Delhi insisted that the Russian carrier be upgraded in order to accommodate horizontal take-off and landing fi ghters, and that its arsenal should include weapons popular with the Indian Navy. Moscow accepted all these proposals.

The $1.5 billion Gorshkov modernisation contract was signed in 2004. The total overhaul expenses amounted to $600-700 million. The rest will be spent on deck fighters, equipment and weapons from third parties. The Nevskoye Design Bureau in St Petersburg, which had developed the Admiral Gorshkov, submitted the modernisation project. The warship is being overhauled at Sevmashpredpriyatiye in Severodvinsk. All redundant artillery systems and missiles, including Bazalt launchers and AK-100 guns, will be removed during the project’s initial stage. All other weapons, namely, Klinok airdefence systems, AK-630 anti-aircraft guns, and most radio-electronics and specialised equipment will also have to go. Instead the Admiral Gorshkov is to receive new-generation air-defence systems, whose specifications are not known yet.

The initial modernisation stage will end after obsolete machinery is replaced with up-todate equivalents. After that, New Delhi will become the ship’s legal owner. During the second stage, India will list all the required weapons and equipment for the Vikramaditya. Her upper deck will be extended until the bow section, and a 14-degree 20- metre-wide ramp will be constructed there. The 280-metre flight deck will have a 198-metre runway for operating Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29-K Fulcrum supersonic fi ghters chosen by India. The 24-metre-wide runway will feature three arrester wires, and there will also be a 130 by 23 by 5.7-metre hangar below the deck. The hangar will have a 30-tonne 18.91 by 9.96-metre lift located amidships left of the island superstructure and a 20-tonne 18.91 by 8.65-metre lift behind the superstructure and in front of the arrester wires. The top-deck aircraft parking area will measure 2,400 square metres. The Vikramaditya will therefore become one of the best aircraft carriers in her class.


In February 2007, Indian pilots and sailors were quite impressed to see the single-seat MiG-29K Fulcrum deck fighter and the two-seat MiG- 29KUB deck trainer/combat plane at an airfield in Zhukovsky near Moscow. “We have known about the topclass MiG warplanes for a long time, but the MiG-29KUB that was developed by Russia for India is even better,” said Commander Jasvinder Chauhan, India’s Air Force Attaché in Moscow.

This statement is no exaggeration because Indian experts had teamed up with designers and engineers of Russia’s MiG Aircraft Corporation to develop the MiG-29KUB. They listed all the required specifi cations, which were embodied in the warplane. In some cases, Indian specifications may have seemed exorbitant because they exceeded the best achievements of the global aircraft industry.

However, MiG complied with the requests of its clients. The Indian side helped to integrate foreign electronics into the plane’s avionics, to develop simulators and to choose the required weaponry. Nikolai Buntin, chief designer of the MiG-29KUB project for India, said the Rusian Air Force and Navy lack such good planes.

The MiG-29-KUB’s radio-electronic system features the French-made Thales TopSight helmet-borne sighting device and the Sagem Sigma-95 laser-gyroscope inertial navigation system. Thales TopSight is, in fact, a shock-resistant helmet that will protect the pilot if a bird shatters the cockpit canopy. Its sighting device is activated by a movement of the head. The fi ghter’s unique open-architecture and modular-system avionics will not become obsolete in the next ten to 15 years. Only separate components of the MiG-29KUB’s radio-electronic system will have to be replaced if the need arises. This radio-electronic system is an upgraded version of the one installed on the MiG-29SMT fi ghter, also serving with the Indian Air Force. It retains the MIL-1553B-type bus, to which the plane’s electronics are attached, and four-channel multiplex settings. Nikolai Buntin said the MiG-29K has a more sophisticated multiplex bus than other Russian planes being sold elsewhere. He added that the MiG-29KUB’s vital systems feature fibre optic communications channels. Fibre channels and fi bre optic lines expedite data-exchange speeds 100 times over and enable the pilot to outmanoeuvre and outgun the enemy. No MiG warplane has ever had any high-speed data-exchange channels before.

All three multi-purpose MFI10-6 data screens in the MiG-29KUB’s front and rear cockpits, the
IKSH-1K heads-up display (HUD) and the Thales TopSight sighting device/target-acquisition system receive video information from the Fazotron-NIIR radar, the new-generation Zhuk-ME optronic radar, other sighting and radio-electronic warfare systems and the built-in digital terrain contour matching (TERCOM) map along fibre channels. The wide-angle sighting and navigation system, developed by the Ramenskoye PKB avionics design bureau, features a revamped BCVM486-3M computer with a 486DX processor and a 90 mHz tact frequency, as well as indicators and consoles. The system, which is the main aircraft element, also integrates other systems in line with their software packages compiled by the main MiG-29KUB contractor
and main-system suppliers. The Ramenskoye PKB is responsible for integrating the plane’s radioelectronic system. The IKSH-1K (Russian acronym for Wide-Format Collimator Ship Indicator) heads-up display has never been installed on Russian planes before.

Previous export-oriented aircraft versions, namely, the Sukhoi Su-30MKI and the Su-30MKM Flanker, were fitted with Israeli and French E1OP and Thales systems. However, the brighter Russian HUDs display teletext data and allow the pilot to take aim through these systems round the clock, even against targets obscured by the glaring sun. The warplane’s RD-33MK engine, which was designed at the St Petersburg-based Klimov Plant, a major national aircraft engine manufacturer, is made at the Chernyshov Machine-Building Plant in Moscow. The first MiG-29KUB, shown to the Indian delegation, featured experimental RD-33MK engines that were delivered in December 2005. But the Klimov Plant has made considerable headway since then and increased the engine’s total service life to 4,000 hours. Each engine is subject to overhaul after operating for 1,000 hours and develops 9,000 kilogramme-force thrust in the afterburner mode. Alexander Vatagin, general director of the Klimov Plant, told journalists that production engines would differ in terms of maximum thrust, smoke levels and radar visibility from those installed on the prototype plane. He said the engine would have brandnew hot section components, a new accessory box and a FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) system for greater dependability and failsafe operation.

Vatagin said the customer would receive aircraft with engines completely matching the Request
for Proposal (RFP) and specific recommendations, and comments made during bench and flight tests. The MiG-29-KUB will be fitted with standard missiles and maybe, rather significantly, with the Russian-Indian BrahMos anti-ship cruise missile also. In all, the Indian Navy is to get 12 single-seat MiG-29K fighters and four two-seat MiG-29KUB planes and will also have the right to buy another 30 MiG-29-K/ MiG-29KUB warplanes. However, the latter would only be produced after 2010, if New Delhi confirms its order.


The Admiral Gorshkov/Vikramaditya contract is behind schedule due to numerous reasons. It took a lot of time and effort to choose the required weapons, to eliminate ship defects and to finance specifi c operations. Energy resources, materials, components and spare parts have become more expensive since the contract was signed in 2004. The cost of labour in Russia has also grown. Moscow would like New Delhi to provide additional funding because the loss-making Sevmashpredpriyatiye is having trouble fulfilling the contract. However, the Indian Navy is dissatisfied with that because it was agreed that budgetary allocations should not be exceeded.

Although the Indian stand is clear, the cashstrapped Sevmashpredpriyatiye needs more money. They say that the aircraft carrier will only enter service with the Indian Navy in late 2010, instead of the initially planned late 2008. However, sources in Severodvinsk said Indian admirals have reacted with understanding to all these problems, which hopefully will not affect bilateral relations. In the meantime, the future Vikramaditya crew has been living in Severodvinsk on a rotation basis for over a year and learning to operate, service and repair the aircraft carrier and its sophisticated systems.

In all, eight groups of Indian military personnel are expected to complete their four-month tours of duty at Sevmashpredpriyatiye. Indian sailors have come to Severodvinsk together with their families, who enjoy playing snowballs, making snowmen and organising concerts that attract up to 5,000 spectators each. These concerts feature Indian songs and dances, comedy sketches and martial arts bouts; popular Russian melodies are also performed.

The people of Severodvinsk have come to love those friendly, kindhearted and smiling Indian offi cers, their wives and children and are proud to have a “little New Delhi” and a “little Mumbai” in their city. Although it is deplorable that the Indian Navy will not receive its new aircraft carrier as scheduled, the time spent by Indian offi cers and their families in northern Russia will help them get to know and love this cold but infinitely beautiful region and theRussian people – as open-hearted and sincere as the Indians.

©Copyright 2007 India Strategic

32 thoughts on “INS Vikramaditya by 2010?”

  1. This caught my eye:

    “the MiG-29KUB’s vital systems feature fibre optic communications channels. Fibre channels and fi bre optic lines expedite data-exchange speeds 100 times over and enable the pilot to outmanoeuvre and outgun the enemy. No MiG warplane has ever had any high-speed data-exchange channels before.”

    Fly-by-Light is an extremely revolutionary technology and is at the cutting edge of Flight Control…. something almost no other aircrafts have, not even the F-22. Its not only faster, but immune to Electronic attack and interference as well.

    Its amazing that the Mig-29K has this. LCA Navy will also most likely have fly-by-light controls.

  2. Dude, read the details before getting excited.
    Fibre optic channels can be used for data comms and which is what they are being used for on the MiG-29K, not for its Flight control system.


  3. If they scale up that radar, it will be a Phalcon equivalent..if only the IAF had the brains to ask for this on day 1.

  4. This blog has started looking like Express…thanx to Shiv

    And by the way I know the guy who’ld install the computers software in Gorshkov…he’s a Khalsa in Delhi…he’s crying as the project is getting delayed.

    Jayanthi S

  5. oye Shiv,

    how come all Express people are just writing about when the Gorshkov will come or can come….you idiots…Shishir and that new fellow Manu and you are just obsessed with these dates

    firstly how does it matter when it comes, till it is not coming atleast India is saved of the extra expenditure it will start incurring and dont worry Pakistan will not attack us till it comes and even if it does after it comes, we will still be the same and you think Pak doesnt know the exact date when it is scheduled, given the growing relatiionship bet Pak and Russia… duffers they have a better intelligence and a better apparatus than us.

    leave Gorshkov and move to other things all you Express idiots

  6. How did Aroor write/report on the torsion bar breaking in Ashwamedh, when he was not even there…..he didn’t go to the exercise to cover it, so where did he copy it from and that Col Ajai Shukla too wasn’t there

    He thinks after commanding an armoured battalion, he makes a fine defence reporter…he’s doing what the 20 somethings youngsters are doing…why are these people here

  7. Hi Shiv,

    I have it from impeccable… and I mean IMPECCABLE… sources that the dates mentioned in the article you posted are correct. Perhaps the delay has been understated.

    Typical of the Russkies, isn’t it, to cover up their delay with rhetoric about how much the Russian community loves having the Indians in St Petersburg!!

    And typical of the twits who have posted that “delay doesn’t matter”… they’ve been conditioned by DRDO, into a Pavlovian belief that delay doesn’t matter. No wonder they think like they do!



  8. The manner in which Ajai shukla drags in the DRDO into every unrelated issue makes me wonder whether he was molested as a child by some chap claiming to be from the DRDO. Thats probably the only thing that can explain his bizarre anal fixation upon the DRDO.
    Ajai, see a shrink and get some catharsis dude!


  9. As he was conditioned by obvious cabal to attack the DRDO, he seems everyone who are against his view as conditioned by DRDO…a CROOK to say the least…whatever BS he is going to utter in his BS blog abt arjun..these people are better marked as lifafas…

  10. mr srirangan while your piece was comprehensive, it said nothing new and did not even have any insights into the problems of indo-russia defence relations. give us your work to read if there’s something new or fresh that you’ve thought of. your article was merely a yoking together of what is already out there. i might also point out that “thaw in relations” means a positive development in relations, and not the other way round as you seem to have erroneously written. though your website design is quite nice!!

  11. Mr. anonymous,

    You are obviously very knowledgeable and nothing I pen down could ever be beyond the vast domain of your infinite wisdom.

    Although you might want to refer to a dictionary to get the exact meaning of ‘thaw’ and ‘thawing’.

    – Sri

  12. sri you bonehead. thaw and thawing both mean an improvement in relations. anyway, you write “the growing thaw in Indo-Russian defence relations is making it even harder for Russia to maintain its dominance in Indian defence.” growing thaw? growing thaw means better relations you dunce! get a vocab before commenting on things well beyond your “infinitely” narrow scope of vision and experience. and stop advertising your sludge on other blogs. you yourself say in your website that it’s our privielege to read your tripe, so stop peddling it outside your website and being a blog-ho. bloody local. you should try advertising on BR instead and get flamed like the other lifafas. i just hate it when people write these big self-important paragraphed pieces, and then invite people to waste five minutes of their lives reading the drivel. good day!

  13. i might additionally add that advertising your nonsense on aroor’s blog also shows how desperate you are.. get a life man.

  14. he has a point. you made errors in english and reacted with sarcasm when he pointed it out. plus all IDC seems to be doing is yoking together multiple reports from other DDM, dont you guys have something of your own?


  15. Jai, there’s more to it. I have a fair clue who the ‘anonymous’ poster is and I’ve had run in’s with the same in the past.

    Frankly I won’t take any anonymous posts too seriously. If a person can’t post using his real name, then he/she does have something to hide.

    And I beg to differ, I don’t think there are errors in the english in that case. Melting of relations which were frozen, and you use ‘thaw’ it is a positive phrase.

    Such won’t apply to Indo-Russian relations. And in the context it is appropriate.

    About the websites content, I don’t participate in the editorial most of the time, but yes ID does have subscription and republication rights for PTI, UNI and ANI. So that is “yolking together” as you put it, inaccurately put, but whatever.

    And you can use the search function if you need to look for “unique” reports, there are plenty of those too.

    There seems to be a grudge against India Defence, I’ve been involved with the business development aspect from a very early stage, and my only assumption for some having this grudge is professional jealousy. As there were many who tried, we were the most successful.

    Heh.. long story, some other time!

    – Sri

  16. Hi guys. I am reminded of a qoute, “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” by Eleanor Roosevelt. Should’nt we all introspect once a while as to what we are discussing. Cheers!

  17. Sri

    I went through your piece just now and suffice to say you have a long way to go as an author and even in reporting what is presented. And no I am not jealous of ID, but fairs fair, and if someone like Aroor is held to high standards, same holds true for ID and you. You are mixing up all sorts of things together in that report and making hay. The Brahmos complaints were from rivals to NPO-MASH on the other hand you are dragging country level relations into the grinder using it as an example.

    “Russia had always viewed India as a perennial market and signs of India becoming an equal competitor was not being taken very well in Moscow. And instead of fair and healthy competition, the Russians resorted to allegations, accusations and political/diplomatic maneuvering. The first signs of Russia’s growing incompatibility with India’s evolving defense industry.”

    What nonsense- the Brahmos was cleared by Moscow. Just because Brahmoss rivals complained does not mean that this is Moscows view.

    “In May 2007, Russia pushed for an overall review of all defence deals signed between the two nations. Russia lobbied passionately for increasing the price even for deals that were already signed. The Russians cited the appreciating Rouble vis-a-vis the U.S. Dollar, and while the Russian concerns would force them to increase the price of upcoming deals, their desire to review the price of deals already concluded did not go down too well with the Indian Ministry of Defence.”

    And you imply that this is a seminal event- as if it were. Many such renegotiations have occurred before, whether it be the Hawk, Scorpene, or Jaguar deals, there have been cost increases due to varying exchange rates and commodity price fluctuations. But the media played this up like blazes and so are you, repeating their tripe with seriousness.

    While the overall theme of the article and your conclusions are not far off the mark, you should strive to put as less speculation and as much fact into the discussion as possible. That should be the difference between you and the likes of Aroor, think about it.


  18. Sri

    your website layout is good and the anon did complemented the good design of ur web. If he is being jealous, he didnt have to.

    like to see better reports from u people.

    I can taken this occasion to put across a question. The composite ballistic protection panel wich appeared in recent news is for LCH or Dhruv ? ID says Dhruv, other says for LCH


  19. Vivek,

    Please don’t mix up my views with that of the website. I had detailed discussions with many, including some Russian defence analysts, and it is clear that Russians don’t want to move forward on the BrahMos II for obvious reasons.

    Unless of course they’d end up winning every major defence deal India has to offer. Which is of course borderline blackmail, but that’s the way it works. Russian products flaws are well documented I don’t need to shed more light upon them.

    (I can quote anonymous MOD sources on this, if they let me. Off record everybody almost admits frustration over Russian antics.)

    If are going to view the BrahMos rivals’ comments in isolation, you’ll end up missing out on the bigger picture here. Too many things are happening together for not to not interlink them, and that was the overall aim of the op-ed. Yep, it was an op-ed not a journalistic report. Of course, you too are entitled to your views.

    If the previous anonymous commenter was you, I apologize, I might have assumed you were some other bloke. 🙂

    Let’s stop hijacking Shiv’s blog and move this discussion to some other place.


    I just checked the authors note on the Helicopter Composite Armour news report. Yes, it is the ALH (might also be the LCH, but this source is definitely pointing at army variant of ALH).

    And yes, we’d love to deliver better reports. Do realize, that while India Defence is one of our priority projects, it isn’t the only one and we as a group are being stretched quite a bit as of now.

    Shiv, Sorry for hijacking your blog mate. But on the brighter side, now you aren’t the only one being hunted around here. 😀

  20. Sri

    you are mistaken..i’m not criticizing.. i’m reading urs since ur olden days..i’m quite confident that u can bring more good reports. i can only appeal to people like u who can keepup the standards. Pls dont take it personal


  21. Of course, I’m not taking it personally. I do realize that we have a long way to go and that the self improvement journey never really stops.

    – Sri

  22. srirangan the snooty dunce tamed! wonders shall never cease. stop arguing about stuff you’ve obviously been found out about you harebrained twit. i still can’t believe you don’t know what the meaning of thaw is. amazing. and nobody’s hunting you here you sad-ass. get some life.

  23. Sri

    NP, that was my only post so far, in reply to you, the earlier anons seem to be the chap who just flamed, and jai..

    Coming to the Brahmos-II are you sure that the russians are not keen upon it?


  24. also, please understand that while the MOD and many other chappies are not happy over arm twisting, russia offers the best deals by far in critical cost sensitive technology.that is the truth. the MKI came with 90% tech transfer. dassault laughed in our faces when we asked for the same with the far less capable mirage 2000 and did its share of arm twisting too.
    the reason why the russians are playing hardball is because the indian govt does not understand that a “baniya” mentality is not good for long term relationships, not slagging on any ethnic group here, just using it to make a rhetorical point. we indians tend to negotiate so hard that we can drive a manufacturer to undertake a pyrrhic deal, one which he is obliged to complete but which leaves him with a sour taste in his mouth on account of the wafer thin margins. this is particularly true when it comes to russia, since they are particularly vulnerable over keeping their soviet era sized arms complex running in todays shrinking budgets and exports are vital. so we negotiate and negotiate, get th best deal but leave the supplier with the perception that he has been screwed over. in turn the russians have been, as u say, very blase about product support and arrogant about their shortcomings. but then again, the french have been no better, so try not to play up the russo-indo relationship as being on the rocks etc, you are doing neither nation a favour, we need them, and they need us. run silent, run deep as the submariners say.


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