* India had expected to receive $2.3 bln ship this year
* Engines suffered during full-speed test, paper reported
* Blow to prestige of world's second largest arms exporter
By Thomas Grove
MOSCOW, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Russia will fail to deliver an
aircraft carrier to India this year, after the $2.3 billion
vessel encountered engine problems during testing, sources close
to the country's weapons exporter said on Monday.
"Fixing the problem entails changing the engines or
repairing them. It will take around nine months, maybe more
maybe less, but definitely more than six months," one source
close to arms exporter Rosoboronexport told Reuters.
"That's why the promised delivery of the ship by the end of
this year wont happen."
Kommersant newspaper reported that defects on the ship,
Vikramaditya, were discovered during a sea test when the vessel
accelerated to maximum speed and its emergency warning system
The report said seven of the ship's eight engines failed
once maximum speed was reached and that the engine problems
arose after India refused to accept the use of asbestos as an
Another source contacted by Reuters said it was likely that
only three of the engines were affected but that repair or
replacement could take up to a year.
Originally built for the Soviet Union as the Admiral
Gorshkov, the Vikramaditya is seen as a cornerstone by both
India and Russia of their defence ties.
India for years has been Russia's top arms customer, buying
at least $1.6 billion worth last year, or 21 percent of all of
Russia's defence exports.
"Nothing has officially been communicated to us here by our
Russian counterparts. During trials, there have been always all
sorts of rumours," said an Indian Navy spokesman.
"As far as we know, until the Russians communicate to us
about any specific failure during sea trials, our date of
receiving the ship stands."
The ship was scheduled to be delivered to the Indian Navy in
time for the country's Dec. 4 naval holiday.
Last year, then President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to buy
foreign weapons for Russia's army if the defence industry was
unable to boost the quality of its products. Russia has already
ordered two French amphibious landing ships, a decision sharply
criticised by the Russian defence industry.
The second largest arms exporter in the world, Russia has
pushed to modernise its rusting defence industry which has
suffered from lack of funding and a slide in innovation since
the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
(Additional reporting by Arup Roychaudhory in New Delhi;
Editing by Robin Pomeroy)