The Indian Navy is currently operating Viraat, a 48 year old former British carrier. To rectify this, they recently purchased a twenty year old Russian carrier. Unfortunately:
Russia’s main military shipyard is at least three years behind schedule on a $1.5 billion contract to modernize an aircraft carrier sold to India in 2004, Interfax news agency reported Aug. 1.
Interfax quoted an unnamed “high-ranking Sevmash source” as saying that the shipyard’s Director General Vladimir Pastukhov had been fired after failing to meet deadlines. “The contract is delayed for three years,” the source said. “The realistic date … is now 2011.”
Interfax quoted the Sevmash source as saying the problem is due to a miscalculation of the amount of work needed to renovate the ship. “After a more detailed examination was conducted, it became clear that the ship’s technological condition is awful and that money allocated for the renovation is not enough,” he said.
It’s unclear whether the Indians will keep Viraat around for another three years or accept a carrier deployment gap. It’s kind of interesting to me that, in spite of our newfound tight friendship with the Indians, I haven’t heard a peep about selling India one of the six supercarriers the US currently has rusting in mothballs. Although five of the six have been stripped down (Kennedy is just beginning the process), I can’t imagine that they’re in much worse condition than the Russian ship, and even though older, the US carriers are much larger, more effective platforms than the Russian Gorshkov will ever be.
Of course, the official reason for not selling the carriers is that the older supercarriers have enough structural similarity to newer carriers that investigation might allow the detection of some flaw or weakness. In other words, the Indians might find the small thermal exhaust port right below the main port. The shaft leads directly to the reactor system. A precise hit will start a chain reaction which should destroy the supercarrier. In the wrong hands, such information might threaten US galactic…er, naval supremacy. Incidentally, this is why the USS Forrestal is being sunk in an undisclosed location.