Moscow: A Russian aircraft carrier which is being refurbished for the Indian Navy will begin sea trials in May for the first time in two decades and is to be handed over to India by December 2012, a shipyard official said Tuesday.
The purchase of the Soviet-built Admiral Gorshkov was agreed in 2004 but delivery has been delayed for a long time, taking almost eight years.
Its initial completion date was scheduled for 2008, however, since then the release date has been put back on numerous occasions and the final price more than doubled.
The cost of refurbishing Gorshkov, to be renamed INS Vikramaditya, has gone up from $947 million to $2.3 billion.
"The vessel is expected to undertake sea trials at the end of May," said Sergei Novosyolov, deputy director of the Sevmash shipyard in the far northern port of Severodvinsk.
The Severodvinsk port is refitting the 45,000-tonne ship that Russia took out of service in 1992.
Russia is one of the largest suppliers of military hardware to India.
Ninety-six Indian specialists are currently being trained to operate the ship, Novosyolov said, adding that the final number of those to be trained is 1,401.
Last week, a Russian military source said Russia would hand over the nuclear-powered Nerpa submarine to India by the end of the month.