Don't Buy Your Aircraft Carrier from Russia

Discussion in 'Indian Navy' started by Rushil51, Sep 20, 2014.

  1. Rushil51

    Rushil51 Regular Member

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    Like a lot of countries, India wants the best weapons it can afford. But ideological and financial concerns mean there are a lot of things it won’t buy from the United States or Europe. That pretty much leaves, well, Russia.

    India has been a big buyer of Russian weapons for 50 years. Those haven’t been easy years for New Delhi. India’s defense contracts with Russia have consistently suffered delays and cost overruns. And the resulting hardware doesn’t always work.

    Of all India’s Russian procurement woes, none speak more to the dysfunctional relationship between the two countries than the saga of INS Vikramaditya. In the early 2000s, India went shopping for a new aircraft carrier. What followed was a military-industrial nightmare.

    Wanted—One New(ish) Carrier

    In 1988, the Soviet Union commissioned the aircraft carrier Baku. She and her four sisters of the Kiev class represented a unique Soviet design. The front third resembled a heavy cruiser, with 12 giant SS-N-12 anti-ship missiles, up to 192 surface-to-air missiles and two 100-millimeter deck guns. The remaining two-thirds of the ship was basically an aircraft carrier, with an angled flight deck and a hangar.

    Baku briefly served in the Soviet navy until the USSR dissolved in 1991. Russia inherited the vessel, renamed her Admiral Gorshkov and kept her on the rolls of the new Russian navy until 1996. After a boiler room explosion, likely due to a lack of maintenance, Admiral Gorshkov went into mothballs.

    In the early 2000s, India faced a dilemma. The Indian navy’s only carrier INS Viraat was set to retire in 2007. Carriers help India assert influence over the Indian Ocean—not to mention, they’re status symbols. New Delhi needed to replace Viraat, and fast.

    India’s options were limited. The only countries building carriers at the time—the United States, France and Italy—were building ships too big for India’s checkbook. In 2004, India and Russia struck a deal in which India would receive Admiral Gorshkov. The ship herself would be free, but India would pay $974 million dollars to Russia to upgrade her.

    It was an ambitious project. At 44,500 tons, Admiral Gorshkov was a huge ship. Already more than a decade old, she had spent eight years languishing in mothballs. Indifference and Russia’s harsh winters are unkind to idle ships.

    Russia would transform the vessel from a helicopter carrier with a partial flight deck to an aircraft carrier with a launch ramp and a flight deck just over 900 feet long. She would be capable of supporting 24 MiG-29K fighters and up to 10 Kamov helicopters.

    She would have new radars, new boilers for propulsion, new arrester wires for catching landing aircraft and new deck elevators. All 2,700 rooms and compartments—spread out over 22 decks—would be refurbished and new wiring would be laid throughout the ship. The “new” carrier would be named Vikramaditya, after an ancient Indian king.

    A real aircraft carrier for less than a billion dollars sounds almost too good to be true. And it was.

    Shakedown

    In 2007, just a year before delivery, it became clear that Russia’s Sevmash shipyard couldn’t meet the ambitious deadline. Even worse, the yard demanded more than twice as much money—$2.9 billion in total—to complete the job.

    The cost of sea trials alone, originally $27 million, ballooned to a fantastic $550 million.

    A year later, with the project still in disarray, Sevmash estimated the carrier to be only 49-percent complete. Even more galling, one Sevmash executive suggested that India should pay an additional $2 billion, citing a “market price” of a brand-new carrier at “between $3 billion and $4 billion.”

    For its part, Sevmash claimed that the job was proving much more complicated than anyone had ever imagined. Nobody had tried converting a ship into an aircraft carrier since World War II.

    Sevmash specialized in submarine construction and had never worked on an aircraft carrier before. The ship had been originally built at the Nikolayev Shipyards, which after the breakup of the Soviet Union became part of the Ukraine. The tooling and specialized equipment used to build Admiral Gorshkov was thousands of miles away and now in a foreign country.

    Like many contractors, defense or otherwise, Sevmash had its unhappy employer over a barrel. With the job halfway done, and having already dropped $974 million, India could not afford to walk away from the deal. Russia knew it, and was blunt about India’s options. “If India does not pay up, we will keep the aircraft carrier,” one defense ministry official told RIA-Novosti.

    “There Will Be Grave Consequences”

    By 2009, the project was deadlocked and word was starting to get around the defense industry. Russian arms exports for 2009 totaled $8 billion, and Sevmash’s delays and extortionary tactics weren’t good for the Russian defense industry as a whole.

    In July 2009, Russia’s then-president Dmitri Medvedev made a high-profile visit to the Sevmash shipyard. Indian news reported that the carrier was still half-done, meaning that the yard had done virtually no work on the ship for two years as it held out for more money.

    Medvedev publicly scolded Sevmash officials. “You need to complete [Vikramaditya] and hand it over our partners,” the visibly irritated president told Sevmash general director Nikolai Kalistratov.

    “Otherwise,” he added, “there will be grave consequences.”

    In 2010, the Indian government agreed to more than double the budget for the carrier to $2.2 billion. This was less than the $2.9 billion Sevmash demanded, and much less than Sevmash’s suggested “market price” of $4 billion.

    Suddenly, Sevmash magically started working harder—actually, twice as hard—and finished the other half of the upgrades in only three years. Vikramaditya finally entered sea trials in August 2012 and commissioned into the Indian navy in November 2013.

    At the commissioning ceremony, Indian Defense Minister AK Anthony expressed relief that the ordeal was over, telling the press that there was a time “when we thought we would never get her.”

    Enduring Woes

    Now that Vikramaditya is finally in service, India’s problems are over, right? Not by a long shot. Incredibly, India has chosen Sevmash to do out-of-warranty work on the ship for the next 20 years.

    Keeping Vikramaditya supplied with spare parts will be a major task in itself. Ten Indian contractors helped to build the carrier, but so did more than 200 other contractors in Russia, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Finland, France, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the U.K. Some countries, particularly Japan, were likely unaware they were exporting parts for a foreign weapons system.

    The ship’s boilers, which provide Vikramaditya with power and propulsion, are a long-term concern. All eight boilers are new. But yard workers discovered defects in them. During her trip from Russia to India, the flattop suffered a boiler breakdown, which Sevmash chalked up to poor-quality Chinese firebricks.

    China denied ever exporting the firebricks.

    Finally, Vikramaditya lacks active air defenses. The ship has chaff and flare systems to lure away anti-ship missiles, but she doesn’t have any close-in weapons systems like the American Phalanx.

    India could install local versions of the Russian AK-630 gun system, but missiles will have to wait until the ship is in drydock again—and that could be up to three years from now. In the meantime, Vikramadita will have to rely on the new Indian air-defense destroyer INS Kolkata for protection from aircraft and missiles.

    As for Sevmash? After the Vikramaditya fiasco, the yard is strangely upbeat about building more carriers … and has identified Brazil as a possible buyer. “Sevmash wants to build aircraft carriers,” said Sergey Novoselov, the yard’s deputy general director.

    That almost sounds like a threat.
    Source:- Don't Buy Your Aircraft Carrier from Russia | RealClearDefense
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2014
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  3. Bheeshma

    Bheeshma Regular Member

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    BS if ever one was printed.
     
  4. prohumanity

    prohumanity Regular Member

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    This guy seems likes a sales agent of western weapon makers. The reality is that no western country was willing to supply India with any weaponry .They were busy supplying Pakistan with Sabre jets, Patton tanks, and later F-16s to intimidate India. This gang wanted India to go down and thought their bought Paki military can do this for them. In those difficult times, Russia came to India's help and supplied MIGs , steel plant technology, space technology and other weapons to empower India enabling it to defend itself from a hostile west using Pakistani dictators against democratic India.
    Use of dictators by west has been its tradition..see Hosni Mubarak, Saddam Hussain, Saudi monarchs, Yahya Khan, Ayub Khan, Zia ul Haq and recently Musharraf. They sing the song of democracy and nurture dictators to harass democratic nations. What can be more hypocritical?...all for maintaining hegemony which is certainly going to end within next few years. Every Indian who has a little bit knowledge of history knows that Russia was and still is, a true friend of India.. you think you can fool these 1.2 billion Indian so easily.
     
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  5. Zebra

    Zebra Senior Member Senior Member

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    Dude, the author is a founder and editor of Asia Security Watch, War is Boring and Japan Security Watch.

    On top of it he writes in Medium, The Atlantic.com, Salon, The Japan Times, The Diplomat, The Daily Beast, The National Interest, Foreign Policy, The Week and US Naval Institute News.

    And what is BS in the article of post #1, he just tried to show us a mirror.

    Is that wrong?
     
  6. sgarg

    sgarg Senior Member Senior Member

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    Casper: We should leave it to Indian Navy to take care of INS Vikramaditya. It is their baby. Good or bad, we simply don't know.

    The quoted article is a typical psy-op. The purpose of such pieces is to confuse people so that they start doubting their own governments. It is typical divide-and-conquer rule of Anglo-American empire.
     
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  7. SajeevJino

    SajeevJino Long walk Elite Member

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    .

    and add the Cost of Barak 8 SAM System and Components + CIWS System where IN recently floated a Tender
     
  8. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Buying anything from Russia has its own consequences ..
     
  9. ninja85

    ninja85 Regular Member

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  10. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

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    There's a tradeoff Russia gives access to system that nobody would want to sell to India at affordable price.
    Think about becoming uncle sam lackey when you buy weapon system with end user agreements.
     
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  11. Compersion

    Compersion Senior Member Senior Member

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    i suppose alternative was to buy the ship and say the purpose for purchase was that it would be used for floating hotel and casino purposes.

    after it arrived to India using cheap means we would silently convert it into a aircraft carrier and give the middle finger to russia and the world. we would even take photos with pride.

    the above article fails to mention it was a military transaction and not a commercial transaction that was upfront and honest and we are currently building two indigenous aircraft carriers (that would have gained invaluable experience from learning from the above).
     
  12. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    I witness first hand of their weapon system preform ace, I don`t need to think abt it ..

    No one cares abt US or Russia except money makers, We make our own for our needs ..

     
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  13. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Easier said than done. If we have to wait for Indian defence companies to absorb tech and build something that suits our needs then Zaid Hamid would be playing Radio Pakistan :)

    Russians gave/sold weapons that helped Independent India to fight for its survival and that my friend nobody can deny.
     
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  14. ladder

    ladder Senior Member Senior Member

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    What mirror, did he show us Sir?
     
  15. Zebra

    Zebra Senior Member Senior Member

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    Then India bought those weapons as a buyer and paid for it anyway.
     
  16. Zebra

    Zebra Senior Member Senior Member

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    Almost everything, including the title itself. Any doubt?
     
  17. Dhairya Yadav

    Dhairya Yadav Regular Member

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    they also gave ToT which no other Western country was ready to give. They are and will be our friend. Many of the weapons and systems russia gave were at subsidised costs. They helped us make Arihant, leased us Chakra, one of the most advanced SSN and gave us critical nuclear technology. West never provided us anything comparable to what Russia gave. The only exception was Britain in the early past.
     
  18. ladder

    ladder Senior Member Senior Member

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    Then what will you tell about MDL and GRSE which had 150 to 225% cost over-runs in P-15 A, P-17 and P-28 project? Don't buy your ships from MDL and GRSE?

    And having an option of penalty clause for late delivery, India didn't invoke, whose fault Sevmash?

    The author knows little about the deal but you probably knowing more than him, still believe the article isn't half-baked?

    The statement that Russians were keen to keep the Viki with themselves, underlines the point that she came out better than expected.

    ===============

    And early 2000's when she was first offered, what choices Indian's had?

    If you forget UK declined to upgrade Sea Harriers of Indian Navy.

    =====================

    Lest, you forget IAC-1 Vikrant too has/had considerable Russian input.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2014
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  19. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

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    India got it at discounted price with some transfer of technology. West would not have given you either.

    Tell me whether we would have got the equivalent of SU-30MKI and MIG-29K type hardware from the west at similar prices
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2014
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  20. anupamsurey

    anupamsurey Regular Member

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    so who else will give us aircraft carrier, amrica, france, united kingdom "?''
    the print might be small but it does mean a big question mark.
     
  21. Compersion

    Compersion Senior Member Senior Member

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