Now that a final price tag of $2.33 billion has been fixed on aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov) going against the proverbial caution, perhaps it is time to look the ‘gift' horse in the mouth.
While arriving at the figure, the Indian Navy asserts that there has been no compromise, including on the much-required sea trials that will be conducted for 20-24 months before the aircraft carrier is handed over by December 2012.
“There will be no compromise, and all trials that are necessary will be conducted,” Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma told The Hindu. The remarks assumes significance following the observations by the Comptroller and Auditor-General that sea trials were a major factor in the substantial increase in the cost.
Navy officials maintain that the aircraft carrier will be good for the next three to four decades. Its hull remains good with value additions done to modify the cruiser class to meet the force requirement. At the time of induction, it will be equivalent to the best among the contemporary carriers.
Some of the features built into the contract are replacement of the entire length of cables/wiring running into thousands of kilometres; delivering infrastructure machinery for repair and maintenance support in Indian docks; training of personnel from Indian docks and personnel on board the carrier; spare parts for 10 years from the time the carrier is to be handed; repair and technical detail documents for maintenance; and pilot training/trials.
Comparing INS Vikramaditya with other carriers, the officials said a 27,000-tonne Cavour class Italian vessel cost $2.2 billion, while 65,000-tonne CVF class vessel (HMS Queen Elizabeth being built in U.K.) cost $4.2 billion.
It took an three additional and 13 supplementary contracts for the final price to be fixed ahead of the rescheduled delivery of the 45,000-tonne Vikramaditya, bringing the curtains down on the negotiations over the price, which was increased from $1.5 billion to $2.2 billion, with the final demand touching $2.9 billion.
New Delhi has so far released more than $600 million.