Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Russia, India Agree On Carrier And More Fulcrums

Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
March 16, 2010

MOSCOW — Russia is boosting defense cooperation with India, signing several contracts during the visit of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to New Delhi.
The two sides finally settled the price increase for modernization of the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier. Russian officials would not reveal the revised price for the ex-Admiral Gorshkov, but Indian press reports quote a figure of $2.33 billion. In 2004 India agreed to take the 44,500-ton carrier for free, paying only $800 million for modernization at Russia’s Severodvinsk-based Sevmash facility.
India will now get the Vikramaditya in December 2012, instead of the earlier August 2008 target. The original contracts for the deal signed in January 2004 were envisioned at a “fixed-price” of $974 million. The increase in price was attributed to work not originally anticipated.
At the end of 2008, the ship was moved out of the wet dock for outfitting. It has already received an extended deck and a ski jump that allows it to operate the MiG-29K variant of the Fulcrum family. According to Russia’s vice premier, Sergey Ivanov, under the new contract the Vikramaditya is to be delivered to the Indian navy at the end of 2012.
The Indian navy also will receive a further 29 MiG-29Ks in addition to the first batch of 12 MiG-29K single-seat and four MiG-29KUB twin-seat fighters it ordered in 2004 at around $650 million. Russian press agency RIA Novosti quotes MiG CEO Mikhail Pogosyan as valuing the contract at $1.5 billion. He said delivery of the new batch is expected to start in 2012.
The Indian navy will take delivery of the so-called Article 9-41 variant of the MiG-29K. This is a significantly upgraded version of the original MiG-29K modification, the 9-31 standard developed in 1988. The current aircraft has an upgraded airframe with increased use of composites, a digital fly-by-wire system, inflight refueling capabilities and new avionics including a full glass cockpit and Zhuk-ME slot array radar. The MiG-29K also has a reduced signature and increased weapon load.
Flight testing started in 2007 and finished last year with takeoff and landing trials using Russia’s only active carrier, the Admiral Kuznetzov. The first six MiG-29Ks were delivered to India last year and officially entered service with the navy last month. According to Pogosyan, the remaining aircraft from the first batch will be delivered this year.
Ivanov also reported that Moscow allowed India to use the high-precision signal of Russia’s Glonass satellite navigation system. He stressed that Russia has agreements with many countries to use Glonass for commercial needs, but India became the first one that will use the Russian system for defense purposes.
Nevertheless, some expected contracts have not been signed. Agreement has yet to be finalized on Indian participation in Russia’s fifth-generation fighter program, and such a deal could still be some months away. Putin’s visit also did not produce the expected progress on the Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA).
United Aircraft Corp., the Russian partner with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., has been working on an MTA design that also will reflect India’s requirements. The first prototype is expected to fly in 2014, with development to be completed by 2015-16.
- Maxim Pyadushkin and Neelam Mathews (mathews.neelam@gmail.com)

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