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ARKHANGELSK, July 14 (Itar-Tass) - The Vikramaditya aircraft carrier, formerly The Admiral Gorshkov aircraft- carrying cruiser upgraded for the Indian Navy, is undergoing a series of tests in the White Sea. Its Northern Fleet crew commanded by Captain 1st rank Igor Ryabko drilled interaction with the crews of Ka-27 anti-submarine warfare helicopters in the White Sea last Friday.
According to Captain 1st rank Vladimir Serga, the Northern Fleet’s official spokesman, the helicopters carried out regular flights over the aircraft carrier with an aim to check its radar, anti-aircraft, communications and air support control systems. "The crews of IL-38 anti-submarine planes of the Northern Fleet will fulfill similar tasks in the near future,” Serga said.
The Northern Fleet crew is testing the Indian aircraft carrier in the White Sea. The crew consists of experienced sailors who learnt to operate airborne ships while serving on The Admiral Kuznetsov air-craft-carrying heavy cruiser.
"The Russian crew will check the functioning of the ship’s main systems and hitches, communication and navigation systems,” Serga went on to say. He added that Russian sailors would later teach an Indian Navy crew to operate the ship.
The aircraft carrier will be handed over to the Indian Navy after the tests have been completed.
Under a package intergovernmental agreement signed in New Delhi in January 2004, the hull of The Admiral Gorshkov aircraft-carrying cruiser was handed over to the Indian side free of charge on condition that it would be modernized at Russia’s Sevmash shipyards in Severodvinsk and would have a Russian air wing. Russia will always train about 1,500 crewmen of the aircraft carrier’s Indian crew and will create the infrastructure for stationing the ship in the water area of the Indian Ocean. The contract’s initial cost was estimated at 1.5 billion dollars and all works to refit the ship to a full-fledged aircraft-carrier were scheduled for 2008. However, the contract’s deadlines were shifted after the Russian side said that the works had been underestimated and demanded additional payments from the Indian side to modernize the ship. An additional agreement on changing the costs of repairs and modernization of the Vikramaditya (The Almighty) aircraft-carrier was signed on March 12, 2010 during President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India. The Indian side says that it will have to pay 2.33 billion dollars for the purchase of the Russian aircraft-carrier whose service life is expected to be thirty years.
The Admiral Gorshkov, formerly named The Baku, came in service with Russia’s Northern Fleet in 1987. After being repaired and refitted, its total water displacement was 45,000 tons; the maximum length is 283.5 meters, the maximum width is 59.8 meters. The ship can carry thirty aircraft, including MiG-29Ks and helicopters, and about 2,000-strong crew. The aircraft-carrying cruiser was repaired and upgraded for new tasks. It was fitted out with new equipment, systems and mechanisms. As a result, a totally new ship was created.