Aircraft carrier is now on sea trials and expected to return to Sevmash Shipyard

INS Vikramaditya will be handed over to the Indian Navy on November 15 at a formal ceremony in the Russian northern seaport of Severodvinsk on the White Sea.

The delivery date was confirmed at talks Defence Secretary R.K. Mathur held in Moscow on Monday, according to informed sources.

A high-level Indian defence delegation paid a one-day visit to Moscow to prepare an annual session of the Indo-Russian Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation that will meet in Russia next month under the chair of the two Defence Ministers.

The upgraded and retrofitted aircraft carrier is now completing sea trials and is expected to return to the Sevmash Shipyard in Severodvinsk in the next few weeks.

The ship was to be delivered last December, but failed the sea trials after its boilers and some other systems malfunctioned. This time, all systems performed flawlessly, including daytime and night takeoff and landings by MiG-29K deck fighter planes, the sources said.

The sides were tight-lipped on the issue of India acquiring a second nuclear submarine from Russia, but the sources confirmed that Moscow was willing to lease another Akula class submarine if India paid for completing its construction. The submarine has been lying half-built at the Amur Shipyard in the Russian Far East since it was mothballed in the 1990s for lack of funds.

On the recent accident in which INS Sindhurakshak sank after rocked by explosions, the Russian side agreed to provide expert assistance for raising the submarine and carrying out its technical inspection.

Russia will also beef up its team of 100 engineers, now deployed in Vishakhapatnam in order to speed up midterm repairs to INS Sindhudhvaj and INS Sindhushashtra. The Russian side also offered to have two more Indian Navy Kilo class submarines undergo midterm repairs in Russia, the sources said.

In reviewing progress of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, the sides noted with satisfaction the completion of preliminary design phase earlier this year. It is hoped that a contract for detailed design could be signed before the end of the year if the sides sort out the issue of costs.

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