India: The Indian Navy for now, has declined a Russian offer to mount the Kashtan air defense system on India’s INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier, and instead will seek a system through open competition. Originally, the former Admiral Gorshkov was to be mounted with an Indo-Israeli air defense system, the long-range surface-to-air missile system, which has been under development by India’s Defense Research and Development Organisation since 2007. But technical problems created uncertainty about whether the system would ever be completed. During a recent meeting here of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation, Russia offered to mount the Kashtan close-in weapon system to meet the Russian-built carrier’s air defense needs. While the system has not been rejected outright, the Navy wants to explore the market for alternate systems.
The Vikramaditya, which went through a refit at Russia’s Sevmash shipyard, sailed to India last month without an air defense system on board. The Navy has made a request to begin the process of acquiring a system, according to a source from the Ministry of Defense. The Israelis have approached the Ministry of Defense and made a presentation of the Barak air defense system; the French also have expressed interest in participating in the competition. An Indian Navy official said the service has faced problems in the timely supply of spares from Russia for several of their assets, including submarines, and the lengthy delay in acquiring the carrier drove the decision to decline the Russian offer for Kashtan. “Better options should be explored for getting weapons for the Russian-built carrier,” said the official.