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Govt blames Russia for delay in aircraft carrier project

The delays in IAC will seriously affect the Navy’s punch in the Indian Ocean Region, an area it aims to dominate.

Written by Pranav Kulkarni | New Delhi |
Updated: December 19, 2015 2:04:37 am

Procedural and administrative delays from the Russian side escalated the cost of Indian Aircraft Carrier (IAC) from Rs 3,261 crore to Rs 19,341 crore. In a rare admission, the government, in its reply to a parliamentary panel, has said that the main reasons in time overruns in the IAC — which is currently under construction at Cochin Shipyards Limited (CSL) — were due to non-availability of Russian steel, delay in receipt of critical pre-launch equipment such as gear box and 3MW diesel generators.

The admission is significant, given that the timely completion of IAC is crucial to the operational capability of the Indian Navy, which will be left with just one operational aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya by mid-2016 after its second carrier INS Viraat retires.
“There had been delays also in getting specialised Russian Aircraft Carrier equipment, due to administrative and procedural delays of Russian side in obtaining internal clearances from their government… The delivery schedule of IAC has been revised from December 10 to December 18… The original cost of Rs 3,261 crore was revised to Rs 19,341 crore,” the government said in its reply to the standing committee.

“Over time, and with the experience of Vikramaditya, the ‘form & fit’ of the vessel has been finalised and many emerging technological advances/ new generation equipment has been incorporated in the IAC. Increased equipment costs, including weapons and sensors, and AFC due to finalisation from generic to specific equipment has further added to the cost overrun,” it said when the standing committee, headed by Gen B C Khanduri, expressed concerns over the delays in various naval projects including IAC.

“The committee feel that there have been long delays and cost overruns in almost all the acquisition activities. Similarly, in case of aircraft carrier Vikramaditya, there had been huge cost escalation due to repeated time extensions. These time and cost overruns in almost all the projects is a major cause of concern,” the committee noted.

The Navy envisages three operational carriers — one each on the two sea boards and one in the dock. The delays in IAC will seriously affect the Navy’s punch in the Indian Ocean Region, an area it aims to dominate.

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