NEW DELHI - India has started building its own aircraft carrier, its navy announced Feb. 26, amid a protracted dispute with Russia over the cost of a Soviet-era carrier.
The navy said the keel-laying ceremony for the vessel would be held Feb. 28, but production of components for the 858-foot ship had already begun.
"ith this project, India joins the select club of 40,000-ton aircraft carrier designers and builders," the navy said in a statement.
The carrier will be armed with surface-to-air missiles, latest radar and an array of other combat systems from Israel, France and Russia, naval officials said.
"This is the most prestigious project that the Indian navy has taken up in-house so far," the navy said.
India currently has only one operational carrier - the INS Viraat - after scrapping its first, INS Vikrant, in 1997 after more than 35 years of service.
Viraat is scheduled to be phased out soon.
India has been involved in a long-running wrangle with Moscow over a 2004 deal to buy a refurbished Soviet-era carrier, the Admiral Gorshkov.
The original price for the refit was $970 million, but Russia later demanded an additional $1.2 billion.
The sides eventually settled for an extra $900 million, but the carrier has yet to be delivered, and the latest reports suggest the Russian export firm Rosoboronexport wanted to increase the price tag again.
The 137-ship Indian navy is in expansion mode and has warships from the U.S. navy and submarines from France.(defensenews)
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