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Warship Gorshkov to be given to Indian Navy in Nov

INS Vikramaditya. An Indian Navy photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): The long-delayed aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov is planned to be handed over to the Indian Navy around mid-November in Russia where it has achieved significant milestones such as night operations of fighter aircraft during its ongoing sea trials there.

The Russian side has assured that they were working towards handing over the warship, which is delayed by almost five years, by the middle of November as they would have completed their trials by that time, sources said here.

An Indian delegation led by Defence Secretary Radha Kant Mathur was in Moscow on Monday and it was also assured about the mid-November delivery schedule, they said.

The delegation was in Moscow as part of visits to prepare ground for the Indo-Russian Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation meeting in Russia in mid-October where defence Minister A K Antony will hold talks with his counterpart there.

The warship now rechristened INS Vikramaditya is completing sea trials and is expected to return to the Sevmash Shipyard in Severodvinsk there in next few weeks, sources said.

The Gorshkov, if handed over to India as per schedule, is expected to reach India only in January next year, where it will be deployed at the strategic Karwar naval base in Karnataka.

The issue of the mishap on the INS Sindhurakshak is also learnt to have come up for discussion during the meetings but India has decided that it will involve Russian or any agency in the probe only after the Navy Board of Inquiry is completed.

The two sides have viewed the progress of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft whose preliminary design phase was completed in June this year and are discussing the issues over pricing of the final design contract.

The two countries also discussed a number of other Navy and Army projects including the supply of ammunition for tank and artillery units of the land force.

Meanwhile, Armies of India and Russia will engage each other in a joint exercise to be held in the Mahajan field firing ranges in Rajasthan under a joint war game codenamed Ex INDRA.

The aim of the 10-day exercise to be held next month is to practice employment of mechanised forces as part of peace-keeping in a semi-urban terrain under the UN charter.

The Infantry Combat Vehicles BMP-I and BMP-II along with the T-72 tanks are expected to take part in the counter- terrorism drills.

The two Armies had held an exercise last year in Russia close to the China border with over 100 troops from each side in it.

The two sides hold Indra series of war games between their Army and the Navy at regular intervals at each other's locations.

India and Russia have been closest defence allies with India depending for over 95 per cent tank requirements on it.

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