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Flagship project flagging

India’s so-called Indigenous Aircraft Carrier was temporarily floated out of dry-dock at the Cochin Shipyard at a low-key event on 29 December 2011. However, the navy’s flagship project is not progressing as planned because of numerous delays in the supply of key equipment. Work on the 40,000-tonne ship has been significantly delayed due to problems in getting General-Electric LM2500 gas turbines and gearboxes ready on time. This comes after earlier delays in sourcing steel of sufficiently high quality for fabrication of the hull.

India has a poor track record of delivering defence projects on schedule, so the latest slippage is not surprising considering, it is not only their first attempt at building something as complex as an aircraft carrier but also the first time they have built a warship using modular construction techniques. Despite the setback the navy is hoping to have what will be three very different aircraft carriers in service by 2015. The 52-year-old INS Viraat (ex-HMS Hermes) is expected to be retained for at least another six years, having undergone a fourth modernisation in 2009. The long-overdue Vikramaditya (ex-Soviet Admiral Gorshkov) is now 85 per cent complete and will be handed over in December 2012.

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