MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will push India to pay far more that originally agreed for a refurbished Soviet-era aircraft carrier that is already a year overdue, the firm overhauling the ship said on Tuesday.
India, a key buyer of Russian arms such as tanks and fighter jets, in 2004 signed a $1.6 billion deal with Russia for the delivery of the modernised Admiral Gorshkov carrier by 2008.
The carrier may now cost between $2.5 and $4 billion depending on “tough” negotiations with New Delhi, Interfax news agency quoted Nikolai Kalistratov, the head of Sevmash Shipyard, as saying.
“According to our calculations, verified by (Russia’s) Federal Tariffs Service, all in all at least $2.5 billion is needed,” he said.
“All of us should make efforts to convince the Indian side that our calculations are absolutely objective,” Kalistratov said. “A new aircraft carrier of this class costs around $4 billion.”
Sevmash Shipyard was not immediately available for comment.
The Admiral Gorshkov, already renamed INS Vikramaditya, was first launched in 1982 and was decommissioned in 1996.
The ship, smaller than U.S. carriers and powered by steam engines rather than nuclear reactors originally carried helicopters and vertical take-off and landing aircraft.
Russian engineers have had to lengthen the runway and build up a proper springboard to allow conventional warplanes to reach take-off speed.
One factor that may have added to the cost and delay is Russia lacks expertise in building aircraft carriers. Soviet-era carriers were built in Mykolayiv which is now part of Ukraine.
The Northern Fleet’s Admiral Kuznetsov, powered by steam turbines, is currently Russia’s only aircraft carrier.