Russia has offered to sell a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to India, which competes with China for supremacy in the Indian Ocean region. The offer from Moscow was submitted in the defence ministry last week when a team of Russian diplomats met top officials including Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar, sources told.
Being designed by the Nevskoye Design Bureau, the supercarrier may cost anywhere between $ 1.8 billion to $ 5.63 billion and will take almost 10 years to complete. The Krylovsky State Research Center is also involved in the development of the nuclear-powered aircraft carried named, Project 23000E Shtorm.
The defence ministry is likely to seek opinion of the Navy and undertake a detailed cost-benefit analysis before taking a call on the offer, which may figure in the annual strategic dialogue between the two defence ministers. The proposal from Moscow comes at a time when New Delhi is debating on the use of nuclear propulsion for its second indigenous aircraft carrier, which is still at the design phase.
For the second carrier project, India and USA are discussing technologies, which include nuclear power and use of electromagnetic aircraft launch system. There is no decision yet on the on-board fighters for the third carrier.
However, the defence ministry is likely to be extremely cautious with the Russians given the experience of Admiral Gorshkov — renamed INS Vikramaditya — as India, under Russian pressure, had to cough up more than double the money agreed in the original contract to get the carrier.
India currently operates two conventional aircraft carriers — INS Vikramaditya and INS Viraat — though the second one is about to be decommissioned. The 40,000 tonnes first indigenous carrier — to be named INS Vikrant — is under construction at the Cochin Shipyard since 2009 and is expected to be inducted around 2020.

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