Vikramaditya returns to India

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Indian Defence Minister AK Antony attended the ceremony where Russia handed over the refurbished aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya to the Indian Navy at the Arctic port of Severodvinsk yesterday.

Aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, which costs $2.35 billion, was commissioned into the Indian Navy at the Sevmash Shipyard in Severodvinsk. Pic/AFP

The warship, previously known as the Admiral Gorshkov, is a Project 1143.4 or modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier commissioned by the Soviet Navy in 1987 and decommissioned in 1996, as it was too expensive to operate on a post-Soviet era budget.

India and Russia signed a $947 million deal in 2004 for the purchase of the carrier, but the original 2008 delivery deadline was delayed twice, pushing up the cost of refurbishing the ship to $2.3 billion. India has already started taking delivery of MiG-29K naval fighter aircraft for the carrier.

INS Vikramaditya successfully completed its sea trails in July and aviation trails in September this year. INS Vikramaditya’s commissioning is being described as "a game changer" in naval circles, and is expected to project India’s maritime power far beyond its shores. This is India’s second aircraft carrier and the navy’s biggest warship. The aircraft carrier will be escorted by other warships during its voyage back home. It is expected to arrive in India by February 2014, Russian officials said.

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