Gorshkov: Paying through our nose for a tin can?

The Indian Navy and the ministry of defence have shown us the way to shopSHIP_CV_Admiral_Gorshkov_lg. Take a few years deciding what you want to buy. Choose an ageing, second-hand product. Spend another few years bargaining…correction pretence at bargaining. Sit back and wait for delivery in a few years. Then, one day, go and pay the seller thrice the amount agreed on and let him delay the delivery even further. Next step: Wait some more. At least that’s how the Gorshkov deal seems to be working out. 


First, a little history before the mockumetary. The Russians began work on the ship in 1978. In 1994, following a boiler room explosion, the ship was docked for a year of repairs. Although she returned to service in 1995, she was finally withdrawn in 1996 and offered for sale. It’s a brilliant game plan. Instead of use and throw, use and sell… at a superinflated price of course.
Why we decided to buy a worn-out, second-hand contraption to defend our 7,600-km coastline beats me. It’s like buying a second-hand ox-cart (with only one ox) to go from Delhi to Agra, at the price of a Maruti 800… and still waiting for delivery because the Ox is on a trial run and is busy consuming Vodka-spiked grass. Mind you, we’re paying for that Vodka too.
The worst part is that we could have got a brand new state-of-the-art aircraft carrier at a much lesser price. With China giving India the heebie jeebies by expanding its naval presence in the neighbourhood, especially Myanmar, a mammoth aircraft carrier with its lethal arsenal of fighter jets and anti-submarine helicopters will be very welcome indeed. Provided we get it before it becomes obsolete.
That’s not all. We’re supposed to get the ship in 2012 and it’s due for a refit in 2017. Considering the Russians’ penchant for punctuality, one shouldn’t expect delivery before 2015, at the very least.gorshkov
The ship will also be missing a crucial anti-missile component. Its weapon for detecting and destroying incoming anti-ship missiles and enemy aircraft would only be installed during the 2017 refit. In case, during that time, India is forced to pursue any military activity, the newly commissioned ‘INS Vikramaditya’ would be as good as a floating dead duck in the water. What a transformation, eh? From a white elephant to a dead duck.
With the Scorpene submarine construction also way behind schedule, India’s dream of a blue water navy seems to have got stuck somewhere between the devil and the deep blue sea. The good news is that the powerful Chinese Navy doesn’t have an aircraft carrier of its own…yet.
PS: In case you’re wondering who this Gorshkov dude is, he was the commander-in-chief of the Soviet Navy and retired in 1985. He’s widely regarded as the architect of the modern Soviet Navy.


Article By: Manas Gupta  Sunday July 26, 2009 (Times Of India)

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