India to buy Russian aircraft carriers

India will possibly sign the largest military and technical cooperation contract with Russia in the nearest future: this country will obtain the so-called pocket aircraft-carrier Admiral Gorshkov. This was said by the Russian Ship-building Agency. If everything is all right with the contract, then the cruiser will be repaired and modernized, the runway decks will be adjusted for MiG aircraft. The cruiser was originally meant for Yak-38 planes of the vertical take-off.

The vessel has been docked for three years already, when it arrived in the city of Severodvinsk there was a hope that it would be sold right away, but India did not hurry to buy it.

There has been a lot of controversy around Russian (former Soviet to be more precise) pocket aircraft cruisers. The Office of the Martial Prosecutor has recently made a decision to institute preliminary probe on the criminal cases that had been filed on the facts of selling five helicopters Mi-8T to North Korea, aircraft carriers Minsk and Novorossiisk to South Korea. This defense technology was removed from the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union and sold to the mentioned countries by defense ministry’s officials in the middle of the 1990s. The decision to start the probe was made in connection with the necessity to investigate the new data.

The story about selling the Russian defense technology to Koreans was actual during the period of 1994-1997. The officials of the defense department concluded a contract with South Korea company Young Distribution under the guise of selling ferrous metal scrap obtained from written-off aircraft carriers. The defense ministry was going to sell up-to-date military equipment of those vessels under the guise of the metal scrap. Prosecuting bodies started dealing with the subject after the information about it appeared in press. It became known as a result of the probe that the cruisers carried top secret radio-locating, navigation equipment, antiaircraft emplacements and other aids and weapons. All those things were complete with documentation containing the description of the technology, its schemes and operation rules.

The Minsk cruiser was sold for $4.5 million, and Novorossiisk – for $4.3 million. However, specialists say that the amount of non-ferrous metals on board those vessels traveled abroad for free, although they actually cost some $14 million. The Minsk cruiser is now docked at Pearl River Harbor in the Chinese city of Shenzhen. Chinese bought it from Koreans and organized a museum and an entertainment complex on board the ship. The current owners of the Minsk cruiser gain $200 thousand of profit daily – ticket sales, restaurants, souvenirs, and other tourist stuff.

It also became known that Pavel Grachev, the Defense Minister of that time, assured everyone that all secret equipment had been removed from those ships before they went on sale, although it was not done so.

Indian delegation have already visited the cruiser Admiral Gorshkov, that is now docked in Severodvinsk. It seems that the transaction will take place.

Andrey Mikhailov PRAVDA.Ru Severodvinsk

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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