Aircraft carrier delay grounds Indian MiG fighters

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India is unlikely to take delivery of the refitted Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov until 2011, three years after the due delivery date.

Russian shipbuilder Sevmash admitted on 1 August, that India was unlikely to take delivery of the refitted aircraft carrier, adding that director general Vladimir Pastukhov has been fired over the handling of the refit contract.

"A realistic date for the ship to undergo sea trials and be transferred to the Indian navy is 2011," Sevmash says. The former Russian navy carrier was due to replace India's only serving carrier, INS Viraat.

India is due to receive the first of its MiG-29K naval fighter jets to equip the refitted carrier later this year, MiG deputy director general Gen Sergei Tsivilev said in June.

Indian navy officials attended a presentation at Zhukovsky in June to see demonstration flights by MiG-29Ks, and to familiarise themselves with the aircraft on the ground.

Indian navy crews have already begun training in Russia and Ukraine at the Russian navy's deck training facilities.

The contract, signed on 20 January 2004, is for 12 single-seat MiG-29Ks and four twin-seat MiG-29KUBs and a support package including simulators. The contract includes an option for another 30 jets to be supplied before 2015.