Russia has agreed to build a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier jointly with India.
According to sources close to the Indian Navy, Kremlin recently sent a letter to the Indian Defence Ministry in which the offer was made. A senior Navy officer told the press: “A Russian military delegation offered India the Project 23000E ‘Storm’ (E stands for export-oriented, Eksportny) heavy aircraft carrier several weeks ago.” The officer, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the Narendra Modi government was considering the offer and would make a final decision soon.
Speaking at a press conference in the Indian capital a couple of days ago, the officer said: “The surface combatant is known to have a full displacement of about 100,000 tonnes and a price of about USD 5.7 billion. The proposed carrier has been jointly developed by the Krylov State Research Centre (KGNC) and the Nevskoye Design Bureau (NPKB), a subsidiary of the United Shipbuilding Corporation. The building of the Project 23300 ‘Storm’ aircraft carrier is supposed to take about 10-11 years.”
He further said that the Indian ministry was reviewing the offer in strict accordance with the standard procedure and a final decision would be made by the end of 2016.
In May 2015, the Indian Navy received USD 4.5 million from the government for starting design works on a new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier intended for the service. It was decided that the name of the ship would be ‘Vishal’. To implement the project, India started working closely with the US. The two countries also established the US-India Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Co-operation (JWGACTC) in 2015 to address the issue. Meanwhile, India received the Russian offer ahead of the third meeting of the group that is scheduled to take place on August 9-12 in Washington DC. With both the US and Russia trying hard to grab the Indian defence market, it’s an opportunity for the Modi government to drive a hard bargain while negotiating the deal.