Russia will deliver the modernised Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier to the Indian Navy in 2012, a senior shipbuilding industry official has said. "Under an agreement with India, the aircraft will be delivered in 2012. Almost 2,000 highly-qualified workers are currently involved in the overhaul (of the ship)," Vladimir Pakhomov, the president of Russia's United Shipbuilding Corporation, said in an interview published on Tuesday in the Vremya Novostei newspaper.
"We will increase the number of workers and speed up the work, making sure that it does not affect the quality. We are continuing talks with Indian officials about the additional financing of the project," he added.
The original $1.5 billion contract signed in 2004 between Russia's state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport and the Indian Navy envisioned that work on the aircraft carrier would be completed in 2008.
Of the contracted amount, $750 million was for the retrofit of the carrier, docked at the Sevmash shipyard in northern Russia for the past 12 years. The balance was for modern weaponry, including MiG-29K Fulcrum aircraft and Ka-27 Helix-A and Ka-31 Helix-B anti-submarine helicopters.
Russia later claimed it had underestimated the scale and the cost of the modernization and demanded an additional $1.2 billion, which New Delhi said was "exorbitant".
The Admiral Gorshkov, renamed INS Vikramaditya, is to replace India's INS Viraat carrier that is currently operational but is now 50 years old.
After modernisation, the Gorshkov is expected to be seaworthy for 30 years.