Defence Secretary to visit Russia next week

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SUBMARINENEW DELHI, August 15;Defence Secretary R. K. Mathur is scheduled to visit Russia next week as India hopes to get the delivery of refurbished aircraft carrier Gorshkov by the end of this year for induction into the Indian Navy.

The Defence Secretary who will lead a high-level tri-services delegation to Moscow is expected to discuss the futuristic joint development projects for the armed forces, sources said. Issues relating to the ongoing Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), being developed by Russia jointly with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), are also likely to come up for discussion.

The Indian side is also slated to take up a quick review of the progress in several sea trials of the 45,000-tonne Gorshkov aircraft carrier, renamed as Vikramaditya. It is likely to be handed over to the Indian Navy before this year end, after a delay of nearly five years.

The visit of the high-level defence delegation to Russia comes at a time when Navy lost its Kilo Class submarine INS Sindhurakshak, which had come back from Russia earlier this year after an extensive refurbishment in a shipyard there and is believed to be under warranty till January 2014.

It is learnt that the two sides are also planning to discuss the upgrade of one more Kilo Class submarine INS Sindhushastra, the last of the 10 submarines procured by India from Russia. India had procured ten Kilo class vessels from Russia in early 1980s and the deliveries were made in 14 years from 1986

to 2000.

The visit by the Defence Secretary to Russia was scheduled in June but was put off for a later date as Mr. Mathur had just taken over his new responsibility at that time.

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