Final price for Gorshkov on Sat

Written by fe Bureaus | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 29 2009, 05:00am hrs
The final price of the Russian-built aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov is likely to be arrived on Saturday.

Price negotiations are underway. The Russian team is visiting us and timeframe (for the price fixation) is short. Hopefully, the hiked price for the warship will be finalised day after tomorrow, outgoing Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta said on Thursday.

The price negotiation for the aircraft carrier, which will be commissioned in the Indian Navy as INS Vikramaditya, had taken a back seat after the national auditor punched holes in the deal, Mehta added.

Protracted negotiations, even at the level of the Indian and Russian defence ministers have so far failed to resolve the impasse.

However, since 2007, Russia has been asking for more money, arguing the extent of repairs of the vessel had been grossly underestimated. Various reports say Russia is now asking for between $2.2 billion and $2.9 billion.

Hopefully, both sides would agree on an additional $1.2 billion to finalise the overhaul of the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier for the Indian Navy, sources said.

Infact, the negotiations were on the final stage in July this year when the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report claimed that the second-hand warhorse is 60 % costlier than a new one and there is a risk of delay in its delivery.

The price hike for the aircraft carrier had also featured in the recent Parliament session, with defence minister AK Antony saying that a fresh contract for the carrier would be signed after verifying the CAGs findings. The Navy had contested the audit report with Mehta claiming to write a cheque if some body could find an aircraft carrier for less than $2 billion.