Here’s What You Need to Remember: India could install local versions of the Russian AK-630 gun system, but missiles will have to wait until the ship is in drydock again—and that could be up to three years from now. In the meantime, Vikramaditya will have to rely on the new Indian air-defense destroyer INS Kolkata for protection from aircraft and missiles.
Like a lot of countries, India wants the best weapons it can afford. But ideological and financial concerns mean there are a lot of things it won’t buy from the United States or Europe. That pretty much leaves, well, Russia.
India has been a big buyer of Russian weapons for 50 years. Those haven’t been easy years for New Delhi. India’s defense contracts with Russia have consistently suffered delays and cost overruns. And the resulting hardware doesn’t always work.
Of all India’s Russian procurement woes, none speak more to the dysfunctional relationship between the two countries than the saga of INS Vikramaditya. In the early 2000s, India went shopping for a new aircraft carrier. What followed was a military-industrial nightmare.
In 1988, the Soviet Union commissioned the aircraft carrier Baku. She and her four sisters of the Kiev class represented a unique Soviet design. The front third resembled a heavy cruiser, with 12 giant SS-N-12 anti-ship missiles, up to 192 surface-to-air missiles and two 100-millimeter deck guns.
The remaining two-thirds of the ship was basically an aircraft carrier, with an angled flight deck and a hangar.