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Russia to start training Indian pilots for aircraft carrier

RIA Novosti

28/05/2008 20:00 BERLIN, May 28 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will start training Indian pilots on MiG-29 carrier fighters to be deployed on the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier sold to India for $1.5 billion in 2004, the head of the MiG corporation said Wednesday.

Under a contract, signed in January 2004, Russia is to deliver 12 single-seater MiG-29Ks and four two-seater MiG-29KUBs by 2009, to be later deployed on board the Vikramaditya, formerly named the Admiral Gorshkov, currently undergoing a major refit in Russia for the Indian Navy.

"In June, we are starting a theoretical course for Indian navy pilots, using the manufactured fighters," Anatoly Belov said. "And in August we will begin the flight training."

Some media sources circulated in May reports that the Indian Navy had asked Boeing to supply its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet supersonic carrier-based fighter aircraft for use on board the Vikramaditya.

However, Russian military experts have said using F-18 Super Hornets on the Admiral Gorshkov would pose difficulties.

After long-running delays and disputes, Russia and India agreed in February to raise refit costs for the aircraft carrier, berthed at the Sevmash shipyard in north Russia for the past 12 years.

Moscow has reportedly demanded an additional $1.2 billion, a sum New Delhi has called exorbitant.

The carrier is to replace India's INS Viraat, which although still operational is 50 years old.

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