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Navy rejects Russian frigates

New Delhi, June 12: The navy has refused to take delivery of the first of three stealth frigates it had ordered from Russia nearly seven years back because it was not up to the mark.

The navy chief, Admiral Madhvendra Singh, who was to leave for Moscow yesterday to formally accept the warship, has deferred his visit, official sources said here today.

The delivery of the first of three Krivak class stealth frigates is behind schedule by over 14 months. An Indian Navy crew of about 17 officers and 250 sailors has been waiting for nearly a year in Russia to take the INS Talwar and sail to Indian waters.

The INS Talwar, INS Trishul and INS Tabar were contracted with a St Petersburg shipyard in 1997 at a cost estimated around $600 million. The ships were to be delivered one after the other from May 2002. Not even the first is ready as yet.

Naval sources said India had asked the builders to carry out more trials of the equipment onboard the ship.

It is understood that the navy was not satisfied with the performance of the surface-to-air Shtil missiles.

The sources said the delivery has been delayed by “weeks”. Only seven of 12 test flights of the missiles were said to be successful.

After induction, the Krivak-III class frigates would be the fastest and most powerful of the ships in the navy. That honour is currently with the INS Delhi. INS Trishul, Talwar and Tabar would be capable of hitting targets deep in land besides engaging enemy vessels at sea.

When contracted, the Krivak-III class frigates were to be built with some Indian equipment and Wartsila diesel generators from Finland.

The ships are also fitted with Russian A-190 quick firing 100 mm guns, a Kashtan air defence system and vertically launched Klub missiles.

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