Admiral Gorshkov Delivery in Last Quarter of 2013
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The delivery of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov- rechristened as INS Vikramaditya- would take place in the last quarter of 2013, Defence Minister A K Antony told the Rajya Sabha today.

On whether government proposes to levy penalties on the Russian side for failing to stick to the delivery schedule, he said, "Liquidated damages clause for delays in delivery is incorporated in the contract. As per contract, LD is to be ascertained and levied within six months of ship's delivery."

India and Russia had signed a USD 947 million deal for 45,000-tonne Gorshkov in 2004. The deal amount was revised later to USD 2.3 billion. The Kiev-class ship was scheduled to have reached Indian shores in 2008, but its delivery has been delayed since then.

"As informed by the Russian side, the delivery of the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (Gorshkov), after completion of repairs and sea trials, would be made in the last quarter of 2013," Antony said in response to a query.

The Russian side has been requested to take up necessary measures to ensure delivery of ship in the last quarter of 2013, the Defence Minister told the House.

The aircraft carrier was subjected to extensive trials for the first time for 108 days from June 8, 2012 to September 23, this year, with a part of the Indian crew on board as part of its training during, he said.

"While a substantial scope of ship's equipment and aviation trials were completed during this period, the main propulsion plant trials to full power could not be completed due to defects encountered on boiler section. Rectification of the defect is likely to take six months," Antony said.

Replying to a separate question on probe into purchase of VVIP choppers, he said, "It has come to the notice of Defence Ministry through several reports, both in Indian and foreign media, that Italian prosecutors had begun a probe into alleged unethical dealings by Finmeccanica, Italy."

Finmeccanica is the parent company of Agusta Westland UK and a contract for procurement of 12 VVIP/ VIP helicopters has been signed with it.

Antony said, "The probe by Italian prosecutors has been widened to include the ibid contract."

On whether the Indian government has started a probe in this regard, he said, "In absence of any specific information, Government has not started any formal probe in this regard by Indian Agencies."

On Defence Ministry's request, the External Affairs Ministry has taken up the matter with Government of Italy and UK to get further details in this regard, Antony said.

In reply to a question on job scam in National Defence Academy (NDA), the Minister said, "Some allegations regarding malpractices in recruitment of Group 'C' employees of NDA have been brought to the notice."

Officers suspected to be involved have been placed under suspension and CBI is investigating the matter. Pending CBI investigation, Commandant NDA has been transferred, he said.

On shortage of arms and ammunitions in Army, the Defence Ministers said that concerns relating to weapon system and ammunition of Indian Army are brought to government's notice on a regular basis.

He was replying to a question on whether the Army Chief has apprised the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister on the shortage of weapon systems and ammunition and modernisation of Army.

"Modernisation of Armed forces is an ongoing process and procurement of equipment and ammunition is carried out on a continuous basis as per the Annual Acquisition Plan (AAP), which in turn is part of the Services Capital Acquisition Plan (SCAP) of five years," Antony said.

The procurement process aims at keeping the Army in a state of readiness and remaining equipped with modern weapon systems, he added.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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