Vikramaditya takes to the sea
The INS Vikramaditya will set out for its first sea trial in the White Sea late on the night of June 8th, Sevmash shipbuilder spokeswoman Anastasia Nikitinskaya told RG. The aircraft carrier will solemnly depart for the open sea at around 23:00 on Friday. Attending the official ceremony will be Vladimir Pospelov, member of the Russian government’s Military-Industrial Commission, Roman Trotsenko, president of United Shipbuilding Corporation, Igor Sevastyanov, deputy general director of Rosoboronexport, Archangelsk region governor Igor Orlov and other high-ranking officials.
The first sea trial will last 120 days. Should any defects be revealed, the ship will discontinue the trial and return to the Severodvinsk shipyard for repairs. During the trial, the ship will be manned by a Russian-Indian crew. The INS Vikramaditya was built under one of the largest Russian-Indian contracts to date.
The Vikramaditya is a light aircraft carrier that is the heavily modernized former Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov. The Vikramaditya is intended to replace the outdated INS Vikrant aircraft carrier and after the ship is fitted out it will become the flagship of the Indian Navy.
The upgrade of the aircraft carrier took several years. The contract for modernizing the Admiral Gorshkov was signed with India in 2004. The hull of the ship was handed over to India free of charge on the condition that Sevmash would modernize the ship and the Vikramaditya would have a Russian-built air wing. Under the original contract, India was to pay $974 million for rebuilding and upgrading the aircraft carrier, and $530 million for the delivery of 16 MiG-29K fighters as well as Ka-31 and Ka-27 anti-submarine helicopters.
In January 2007, India suspended payments under the contract. In November of that year, the Russian side said that additional financing would be required to complete the work. In December 2008, talks resumed, and so did the modernization of the ship. Since then the carrier has been upgraded with an expanded flight deck and a 14-degree ski-jump with three arrestor cables. The power plant has been converted from fuel oil to diesel. The ship is currently capable of receiving aircraft weighing up to 25 tons, including the MiG-29K, S-54/55/56, Rafale-M, and the F/A-18. Furthermore, the aircraft carrier will also have Ka-28 and Ka-31 helicopters deployed on board and is capable of deploying the Indian HAL Dhruv and Russian Ka-60 (Ka-64) helicopters. The ship has been equipped with new navigation and radar systems, as well as new communications and air control systems.
In a statement, Sevmash said that the Vikramaditya is essentially an all-new ship that has been built using state-of-the-art technologies.
The INS Vikramaditya is expected to be handed over to India in December 2012. Upon completion of repairs and modernization, the ship’s displacement will exceed 45,000 tons. The carrier is 283 meters long, 59.8 meters wide, and can deploy 30 aircraft. It will have a crew of 1,924.