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Agencies
Moscow, September 03, 2009
A new deal between India and Russia on the funds for the refit of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov will be signed in mid-October, the head of the state technology corporation said on Thursday. "An additional agreement will be signed," Sergei Chemezov, head of Rostekhnologii, told a news conference in Moscow.

Under the original $1.5 billion 2004 contract between Russia's state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport and the Indian Navy, which includes delivery of MiG-29K Fulcrum carrier-based fighters, the work on the aircraft carrier was to have been completed in 2008.

However, Russia later claimed it had underestimated the scale and the cost of the modernisation, and asked for an additional $1.2 billion, which New Delhi said was "exorbitant".

After long-running delays and disputes, India offered in February 2008 to raise the refit costs for the aircraft carrier, docked at the Sevmash shipyard in northern Russia for the past 12 years, by up to $600 million.

Russia said it was not satisfied with the proposed amount and the issue of the additional funding remains unresolved.

Talks on the additional funding agreement are currently underway. Russia has pledged to finish the Admiral Gorshkov's overhaul as soon as possible and deliver it to India in 2012 if the additional $1.2 billion funding is provided by New Delhi.

According to Russian media, India has no alternative but to allocate the required funds, despite recent objections from the government's accounting office, because the Indian Navy desperately needs to replace its INS Viraat, which, although currently operational, is now 50 years old.

After modernisation, the carrier will join the Indian Navy as INS Vikramaditya, and is expected to be seaworthy for 30 years.

Admiral Gorshkov is a modified Kiev class aircraft carrier, originally named Baku.

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, following a boiler room explosion, the Admiral Gorshkov sat in dock for a year for repairs. After a brief return to service in 1995, it was finally withdrawn from service in 1996 and put up for sale.

The ship's displacement is 45,000 tonnes. It has a maximum speed of 32 knots and an endurance of 13,500 nautical miles (25,000 km) at a cruising speed of 18 knots.