The INS Vikramaditya is a new Indian Navy aircraft carrier based on the since disbanded Soviet-era Kiev-class. The former Russian Navy Kiev-class heavy aircraft carrier "Admiral Gorshkov" was born of the Soviet Cold War-era "Baku" (CVHG-103) heavy aircraft carrier laid down in 1978, launched in 1982 and commissioned in 1987. After the fall of the Soviet Empire, the vessel re-emerged with its new name under the Russian Navy flag and managed an existence from 1991 to 1995 before being decommissioned for good in 1996. The Russians then sought a buyer and found one in the Indian Navy who, after much back and forth, settled on a multi-billion dollar price tag to help cover the required refit to suit Indian Navy requirements (included in the deal were 12 Mikoyan MiG-29K Fulcrum navy fighters and 6 Kamov Ka-31 Helix navy helicopters). The vast refurbishment program has since been underway and has resulted in a completely reworked bow section that was, at one point, home to most of the defensive and offensive weaponry available to the Kiev-class carriers. In their place was installed a ski ramp-type platform to complement the angled flight deck (the latter to be used in recovery of incoming aircraft). Additionally, the original boiler-fed propulsion system has since given way to a more modern diesel-fueled turbine arrangement. In all, some 3/4 of the vessel will be termed "new" by the end of the program providing the Indian Navy with a capable, though somewhat tactically limited, aircraft carrier.
The INS Vikramaditya is expected to be commissioned in late 2012 (now 4Q 2013) after a December handover ceremony to join the growing fleet of Asia-Pacific carriers currently service or in development. The refit has been ongoing in Russia and the vessel is expected to succeed the outgoing Centaur-class INS Viraat which is set for decommissioning in 2020 (delayed from the initial 2008 target year). It is worth noting that the Indian Navy is also currently constructing its first of two indigenous aircraft carriers in the 44,000-ton INS Vikrant and the modified 65,000-ton INS Vishal. While these developments are still far off, the INS Vikramaditya herself has undergone sea trials in June of 2012.
The INS Vikramaditya will primarily field an air wing of Mikoyan MiG29K Fulcrum fighters and the remaining group fo BAe Sea Harrier VTOL jets as well as the aforementioned helicopters. Self-defense will come in the form of standard surface-to-air missile systems, modern radar and sensors and Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs).
October 2012 - The Russians have announced that an issue with the boilers of the converted Gorshkov will delay the Russian-to-Indian handover of the vessel until 4Q 2013 - a delay of one year from the initially announced handover ceremony.
November 2013 - INS Vikramaditya was officially commissioned for service in the Indian Navy on November 16th, 2013. Her homeport is INS Kadamba, Karwar and she fights under the motto of "Strike Far, Strike Sure".