Ahead of its expected delivery by year end,Indian Navy’s Russian built aircraft carrier Vikramaditya today commenced sea trials in the White Sea.
The sea-trials of 45,000 tonne carrier are being carried out by a mixed crew of Russian and Indian sailors and would last for the next 120 days,before the warship is formally handed over to India,RIA Novosti reported quoting officials at the Sevmash shipyard,where the vessel is being retrofitted.
Officials said Indian naval personnel were on board to familiarise themselves to the system of the carrier.
“After initial trials in the White Sea,the carrier would move into the nearby Barents Sea for trials with naval fighters,” officials said.
The sea-trials of the warship are four year behind the schedule.
India and Russia had inked a USD 947 million deal in 2005 for the purchase of the carrier,but delivery has already been delayed twice,pushing up the cost of refurbishing the carrier to USD 2.3 billion.
Sevmash shipyard director Vladimir Pastukhov,was fired in 2007 over his poor management of the project.
The Vikramaditya was originally built as the Soviet Project 1143.4 class aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov. The ship was laid down in 1978 at the Nikolayev South shipyard in Ukraine,launched in 1982,and commissioned with the Soviet Navy in 1987.
It was renamed after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 1994,the Admiral Gorshkov sat in dock for a year for repairs after a boiler room explosion.
In 1995,it briefly returned to service but was was finally withdrawn and put up for sale in 1996.
The ship has a displacement of 45,000 tonnes,a maximum speed of 32 knots and an endurance of 13,500 nautical miles at a cruising speed of 18 knots.
India has already started taking delivery of MiG-29K naval fighter aircraft for the Vikramaditya,as they were ready before the refit was completed. The MiG-29Ks will operate in STOBAR (short take-off but assisted recovery via arresting wires) mode.
The MiG-29K was reportedly selected over the larger and more-capable Su-33 naval fighter because India also hopes to operate them from its smaller,indigenous “Project-71 Air Defense Ship” carriers,according to defenseindustrydaily.com.