INS Vikramditya - India's second aircraft carrier- is back on its feet. Three of the ship's eight boilers that had malfunctioned during trials in last year have been "opened up and set right," a senior Navy official told NDTV.
Originally built as the Admiral Gorshkov in the Soviet Union, the $2.3 billion (about Rs. 12,500 crore) aircraft carrier is being refurbished by Russia, the world's second-largest arms exporter for India, its biggest customer.
The induction of the 45,000-tonne aircraft carrier that can carry about 30-odd aircraft was delayed by almost a year, leading to a severe reprimand by Defence Minister AK Antony in October.
Sources told NDTV that the problems in the ship's boilers had surfaced had when the aircraft was pushed to perform at speeds over 26-27 knots per hour. The INS Vikramaditya can do a maximum of about 28 Knots per hour. The Sevmash shipyard in Russia which is refurbishing and refitting the aircraft carrier hasn't officially informed India about the possible reason for the malfunction of the boilers.
In sea trials last year, the ship sailed for 10o hours and its flight deck - the most critical part of an aircraft carrier - is operational, senior officials told NDTV.
The MiG-29KUB two-seat naval fighter jet will be positioned on the Vikramaditya. It will be equipped with Russian-made KH-35 air to air missiles.
But because the seas in Northern Russia are frozen, the INS Vikramaditya can sail out of the port only in June this year for "delivery acceptance trials" - the penultimate stage before a ship is commissioned.
On acceptance of the ship from the builder, it will be formally commissioned with the Indian tri- colour being hoisted on top of ship after which start its journey to towards India.
The Navy intends to commission the ship in Russia and sail it back to India by October- November 2013. It is expected to join active service by December.
Interestingly, the Indian Navy will showcase the aircraft carrier on January 26 at Republic Day parade in New Delhi. The Navy tableau will include a scaled-down model of the INS Vikramaditya.
Sudhi Ranjan Sen,
January 24, 2013