Russian defence minister to discuss with India delay in aircraft carrier delivery

     Visiting Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov received a ceremonial welcome here on Wednesday, ahead of bilateral military-technical cooperation discussions that could include delay in the delivery of the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. Defence Minister A.K. Antony welcomed his Russian counterpart and Serdyukov was also given a guard of honour.

The talks were earlier scheduled to take place on October 4, but Serdyukov deferred it till October 10. Russia had failed to deliver an aircraft carrier to India this year, after the 2.3 billion dollar vessel encountered engine problems during testing, sources close to the country's weapons exporter. A Russian daily, Kommersant reported that defects on the ship, Vikramaditya, were discovered during a sea test when the vessel accelerated to maximum speed and its emergency warning system sounded. The report said seven of the ship's eight engines failed once maximum speed was reached and that the engine problems arose after India refused to accept the use of asbestos as an insulator.

Originally built for the Soviet Union as the Admiral Gorshkov, the Vikramaditya is seen as a cornerstone of defence ties between Russia , the world's second largest arms exporter, and its biggest customer. The ship was scheduled to be delivered to the Indian Navy in time for the country's December 04 naval holiday. New Delhi bought at least $1.6 billion worth of Russian arms last year, or 21 percent of all of Russia 's defence exports.

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