India is all set to get INS Vikramaditya, formerly Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, delivered from Russia later this year, but the 45,000-tonne Kiev class warship will come without a key air defence weapon for which it may have to wait for at least three years more.
The delay in getting the air defence Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile or LR-SAM will be at the Indian end, as they have decided to develop one jointly with Israel and the project is facing time overruns.
LR-SAM is a defence mechanism to intercept an incoming enemy missile and aircraft that could pose a threat to an aircraft carrier, in this case INS Vikramaditya.
The Indo-Israeli LR-SAM will have a 70-km range and the partners in this venture are the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Israeli Aerospace Industries.
Indian Navy Vice-Chief Vice-Admiral R K Dhowan said here on Thursday that Vikramaditya will reach India later this year without a Close In Weapon Systems (CIWS) and a LR-SAM on board.
However, during the first and immediate refit on the warship’s arrival at Karwar naval base in Karnataka, Vikramaditya will be retrofitted with a Russian-origin AK-630 rapid fire gun.
But the LR-SAM will be integrated onto the warship only during its subsequent refit that could happen after three years, by which time the Indian Navy is hopeful the LR-SAM will be ready for operationalising.
The LR-SAM was originally scheduled for operationalising by 2011 when it was to be fitted on board the three Project-15A Kolkata class Destroyers built at the Mumbai-based Mazagon Docks Limited.
The Navy is also debating on the design of the second IAC that will be built after the first IAC is completed.