India and Russia have constituted an apex monitoring committee to supervise the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier refit programme at the Sevmash shipyard, even as work on the warship has gained pace in the last six months with additional manpower deployed.
The committee, to be headed by Russian shipyard's corporation chief, was formed recently, with a Russian official personally visiting the shipyard to supervise the work on the warship, to ensure its timely delivery to India by December 2012.
The progress report on the refit programme for the 45,000-tonne aircraft carrier that India bought in 2004 comes in the wake of a visit by Navy's Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition Vice Admiral N N Kumar to Russia in the middle of last month, a Navy spokesperson said here today.
"The delegation observed a lot of progress in the refit work since September last year. Russia has put in significant efforts to ensure delivery of the aircraft carrier within the deadline," he said on the visit of Kumar and his team to Sevmash shipyard.
India's decision to pay $2.34 billion for the warship early this year helped in expediting work on the warship.
India had originally bought the ship at $974 million, which also included its repair, refit and trials cost.
Now, with the work progressing well, the Russians have assured the Navy that the warship would be ready for harbour trials by early next year, with all the work on the ship completed before December this year.
Already, the shipyard has completed all structural and hull related work and half of the cable laying work on the warship, the team lead by Kumar had noticed during the visit.
The shipyard had also significantly increased the number of men working on the warship -- a substantial number compared to what it was last year, the spokesperson said.
They had also completed the installation of all large equipment such as engines, gear box, alternators, and generators.
"The warship is in an advanced state of of being sealed. Only the minor equipment, piping, ventilation and air-conditioning work is left to be done, apart from another 50 per cent of cabling work," he said.
India had also bought 16 MiG-29K naval fighter jets for $526 million to operate on board Gorkshkov and these aircraft have been delivered to the Navy.
Though the warship itself is yet to arrive, Naval pilots have started their practise runs at a shore-based training facility at a naval air base in Goa.