The much-awaited aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, currently undergoing trials in Russia, is likely to be commissioned in Indian Navy by the end of next year, Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi said today.
Addressing the annual Navy Day press conference here, he also said that a "good news for the nation" regarding indigenously developed nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant will be made "very soon".
"There has been a delay in the delivery of INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov), which has sailed for more than 100 days in the recent past and completed a majority of her equipment and aviation trials. The revised schedule envisages the delivery of the ship in the last quarter of 2013," he said.
On the present status of INS Arihant, he said, "We expect to have good news for the nation very soon."
The vessel was expected to be launched for sea trials soon as part of efforts towards completing India's nuclear triad and achieving a credible and invulnerable retaliatory strike capability.
Accepting that the development of Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) too has been delayed, Joshi said that the project is finally "picking up pace" at the Kochi shipyard.
"The construction of the IAC though delayed is now picking up pace at Kochi Shipyard," he said.
On future inductions in the force in the next one year, he said, "In 2013, we expect to induct one Kolkata-class destroyer, one P-28 Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Corvette, one Catamaran Hull Survey Vessel, one Offshore Patrol Vessel and sixteen Fast Interceptor Craft (FIC)."
Joshi said that the Navy was inducting more vessels than it was retiring and stressed though its submarines were old, they had potent capabilities and had gone through mid-life upgradations.
Most of the submarines have been upgraded and now have the capabilities, which were not there when they were inducted into service, he said.
On the IAC-2 project, the Navy chief said, "We have been working on it (IAC-2) for some years now. Some time next year we hope to go for approvals."
On augmenting the manpower in the force, he said it is being done with the planned acquisition of new assets.
Joshi said the officer cadre is expected to go up from 8,000 to 10,000 in three years time and there will be a corresponding increase in the number of sailors.
On construction of Scorpene submarines, he said necessary steps have been taken to remove the hurdles and Mazagon Dockyard Limited (MDL) and its partners have been asked to compress the time-frame to complete the project at the earliest.
"Our preferred choice of inducting ships and submarines has been through the indigenous route and of the 44 ships and submarines presently on order, 42 are from Indian shipyards, including private shipyards," he said.
"Over the next five years we expect to induct ships and submarines at an average rate of five to six units per year."
He said among the major naval projects under construction in Indian shipyards are Kolkata-class vessels.
Regarding induction of P8-I Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft from Boeing for augmenting the aerial surveillance capability, Joshi said it is scheduled for the next year.
"In addition to that, we are setting up additional Operational Turn Around (OTR) bases, Forward Operating Bases (FOB) and Naval Air Enclaves all along the coast which would enhance the reach and sustainability of our surveillance effort," he said.
Highlighting coastal security as one of the major tasks for the force, he said 1000 personnel have already been inducted into the Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB) who will man the coastline with Fast Interceptor Craft (FIC).
"The sanctioned strength for SPB is 2000 personnel and 1000 have already been inducted. Other plans are also on schedule for securing the coastline," he said.