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Indian Navy Has To Wait A Little Longer For New Ships

August 30, 2011

Indian INS Vikramitya

In what could amount to a major crisis, Russia’s biggest arms client will have to wait longer for its new ships. By ‘ships’ isn’t meant the refurbished aircraft carrier Vikramaditya but three Talwar-class missile frigates as well.

The missile frigates were ordered in 2006 for $1.6 billion dollars. Very much like the Vikramaditya, which arrives next year, the first of the Talwars are supposed to have been joined the Indian fleet by now. Instead, the timetable has been completely revised, starting with first delivery next year until the order is filled by 2015. This change comes amid claims from India, specifically defence minister AK Antony, that Indian obervers are on the ground in Russia keeping tab of progress. To offset this latest disaster, Antony is sending a team to Russia this week to renegotiate the new contract.

Not surprisingly, further payments from India are now requested by Russian manufacturers who claim they need the extra money to cover inflation-spiked costs. Such overruns are endemic in the Russian military-industrial complex and has caused numerous problems even when fulfilling orders for the domestic market. The main reasons for these embarrassing lapses, at least those cited by Russian manufacturers, is they don’t have enough skilled manpower available.

The Talwar-class is derived from Soviet-era Krivak III missile frigates. The Indian navy already possesses three from a 1996 purchase which was also delayed. Despite past setbacks, come 2006 another batch was ordered and paid for. Though marketed as a stealth ship, the Talwar/Krivak III are essentially missile frigates with low radar signatures and weapon systems that make them suited for anti-submarine warfare.

Indian Talwar frigate

The only possible silver lining in this situation is the delivery of a Russian nuclear sub to India by year’s end. Unless, of course, that too is delayed.

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