helmutkohl

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the sale of the Gorshkov was, and still is one of India's most controversial naval acquisitions.

I recalled that it was close to not going through due to changes in pricing and schedule.

Lets assume that India decided NOT to go with the Gorshkov

- How would this happen?
- What would India's alternative plans be? Acquire UK ships temporarily? Continue using the older ships?
- How would India not acquiring the Gorshkov affect other countries? Such as Russia which ended up using the same MiG-29Ks, or China which could be interested in acquiring the Gorshkov?
 

SSgtC

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IIRC, and I'm going off memory here, there was some discussion of India possibly acquiring a modified America class LHA optimized for use as a carrier (again, IIRC it would have had a smaller island, larger hanger and redesigned interior spaces).
 

Archibald

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Then China could complete their collection of Kiev "amusement parks"with a third one; the fourth was scrapped.
One of the weirdest ironies of the post Cold war world
- China got two Kievs but copied the Kuznetsov sibling Varyag into the Liaoning
- India got the third Kiev and they transformed it
- Russia could not finish the Ullyanovsk CATOBAR hull

In a logical world Russia would have finished Ullyanovsk; passed Kuznetsov and Varyag to China; and all Kievs to India
Frack, how about Moskvas to North Korea ?
 

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I would love to see the 3 Invincibles, Garibaldi and Asturias sold second hand to many navies (as was Ocean to Brazil)
 

CV12Hornet

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So Gorshkov was decommissioned in 1996, and from Wikipedia immediately caught the attention of the Indians. Negotiations were by all accounts contentious, an agreement only being reached in 2004, with intent to commission the ship in 2008. In the event, this slipped to 2013 due to the deteriorated condition of both Russian shipyards and the ship itself, with significant cost overruns.

So we have two places where India might decide not to go through with purchasing/finishing Vikramditya - in the late 90s and early 2000s, during the negotiations with Russia, and in 2008, when things became acrimonious between the two countries over the delays and cost overruns. Viraat, for her part, was refitted to last until 2010 between 1999 and 2001, presumably due to how long negotiations with Russia were taking.

We'll take the two options separately. In the late 1990s, the following options are available:
- USS Independence: decommissioned in 1998, had undergone the full SLEP treatment, had been offered to Brazil so the US wasn't overly worried about handing over sensitive technology with the class. On the debit side, she's 39 years old and rather large and expensive for the Indians.
- MN Clemenceau: decommissioned in 1997, sister ship sold to Brazil. Not much younger than Independence, but much cheaper to operate and still offers an upgrade over Viraat. Can likely be modified to carry modern carrier aircraft.
- An aviation-oriented Wasp class. Higher up-front cost, lower running cost and longer service life. Unfortunately limited to Harriers, which even in 1999 was a growing problem.

Looking at the options its not hard to see why the Indians continued to press for Gorshkov. You either have ancient second-hand ships, or a Harrier-only vessel when concerns are being raised about the age of the Harrier fleet.

In 2008, the following options are available:
- HMS Invincible is sitting in mothballs after being decommissioned in 2005. However, she's not much of a step up over Viraat and has the same Harrier problem.
- Aviation-oriented America. Timing is the issue here: the lead ship of the class only entered service with the US Navy in 2014 and I doubt the Indians are going to get their version any faster with all the design changes. Considering Vikrant was expected to enter service in 2013, and even pessimistic projections of Vikramaditya's refit got her to the Indians in the same time period, not very attractive.
- New-build Juan Carlos/Cavour. Proven design, maintains capability, but also Harrier-dependent and with similar timing problems to an America variant.

Again, it's not hard to see why the Indians forged ahead with Gorshkov. Despite the cost overruns she was still cheaper and faster to finish refitting than buying a new ship, and while Invincible would've been cheaper she has too many drawbacks to be worth it.

Fundamentally, the problem boils down to the fact that their best alternatives relied on the Harrier, and as the Indians never bought the Harrier II they were stuck with significantly older Sea Harriers. The only option I can see the Indians going for is Clemenceau, and as the Brazilians proved that's not much of a step up in the maintenance department from Viraat.
 

helmutkohl

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So Gorshkov was decommissioned in 1996, and from Wikipedia immediately caught the attention of the Indians. Negotiations were by all accounts contentious, an agreement only being reached in 2004, with intent to commission the ship in 2008. In the event, this slipped to 2013 due to the deteriorated condition of both Russian shipyards and the ship itself, with significant cost overruns.

So we have two places where India might decide not to go through with purchasing/finishing Vikramditya - in the late 90s and early 2000s, during the negotiations with Russia, and in 2008, when things became acrimonious between the two countries over the delays and cost overruns. Viraat, for her part, was refitted to last until 2010 between 1999 and 2001, presumably due to how long negotiations with Russia were taking.

We'll take the two options separately. In the late 1990s, the following options are available:
- USS Independence: decommissioned in 1998, had undergone the full SLEP treatment, had been offered to Brazil so the US wasn't overly worried about handing over sensitive technology with the class. On the debit side, she's 39 years old and rather large and expensive for the Indians.
- MN Clemenceau: decommissioned in 1997, sister ship sold to Brazil. Not much younger than Independence, but much cheaper to operate and still offers an upgrade over Viraat. Can likely be modified to carry modern carrier aircraft.
- An aviation-oriented Wasp class. Higher up-front cost, lower running cost and longer service life. Unfortunately limited to Harriers, which even in 1999 was a growing problem.

Looking at the options its not hard to see why the Indians continued to press for Gorshkov. You either have ancient second-hand ships, or a Harrier-only vessel when concerns are being raised about the age of the Harrier fleet.

In 2008, the following options are available:
- HMS Invincible is sitting in mothballs after being decommissioned in 2005. However, she's not much of a step up over Viraat and has the same Harrier problem.
- Aviation-oriented America. Timing is the issue here: the lead ship of the class only entered service with the US Navy in 2014 and I doubt the Indians are going to get their version any faster with all the design changes. Considering Vikrant was expected to enter service in 2013, and even pessimistic projections of Vikramaditya's refit got her to the Indians in the same time period, not very attractive.
- New-build Juan Carlos/Cavour. Proven design, maintains capability, but also Harrier-dependent and with similar timing problems to an America variant.

Again, it's not hard to see why the Indians forged ahead with Gorshkov. Despite the cost overruns she was still cheaper and faster to finish refitting than buying a new ship, and while Invincible would've been cheaper she has too many drawbacks to be worth it.

Fundamentally, the problem boils down to the fact that their best alternatives relied on the Harrier, and as the Indians never bought the Harrier II they were stuck with significantly older Sea Harriers. The only option I can see the Indians going for is Clemenceau, and as the Brazilians proved that's not much of a step up in the maintenance department from Viraat.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply

what about the possibility of

1. In regards to the ageing Harrier issues, what about the US Harrier 2s? they still seem to be in service if I'm not wrong
2. Modifying one of those small carriers for stobar operations?
 

CV12Hornet

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1. In regards to the ageing Harrier issues, what about the US Harrier 2s? they still seem to be in service if I'm not wrong
Harrier IIs would be a good buy from a lifespan perspective. But they don't seem to have been considered; India's response to their aging Harriers was to push all their chips into the STOBAR table, and then all the delays to Vikramaditya and Vikrant started happening, at which point there wasn't much point to buying Harrier IIs just to run them for a "few" years.

There are other factors at play as well. On the technical side, the Harrier II lacked the antiship capabilities of the Sea Harrier - the former could only fire Maverick missiles, while the latter had the Sea Eagle, a much more capable missile. MiG-29Ks, meanwhile, can fire Kh-31 and Kh-35 missiles, also a major step up from Mavericks. Further, this was around the time the US sanctioned India over their nuclear tests. Not only does that make acquiring the mostly-American Harrier II, it also strengthens India's tendency to not buy American. Which limits Indian options even further in the late 90s period.

2. Modifying one of those small carriers for stobar operations?
Maybe, but that means a new ship - the Invincibles are way too small for STOBAR ops. That means the timing problems crop back up again, and the sanctions mean a Wasp derivative is almost impossible.
 

helmutkohl

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1. In regards to the ageing Harrier issues, what about the US Harrier 2s? they still seem to be in service if I'm not wrong
Harrier IIs would be a good buy from a lifespan perspective. But they don't seem to have been considered; India's response to their aging Harriers was to push all their chips into the STOBAR table, and then all the delays to Vikramaditya and Vikrant started happening, at which point there wasn't much point to buying Harrier IIs just to run them for a "few" years.

There are other factors at play as well. On the technical side, the Harrier II lacked the antiship capabilities of the Sea Harrier - the former could only fire Maverick missiles, while the latter had the Sea Eagle, a much more capable missile. MiG-29Ks, meanwhile, can fire Kh-31 and Kh-35 missiles, also a major step up from Mavericks. Further, this was around the time the US sanctioned India over their nuclear tests. Not only does that make acquiring the mostly-American Harrier II, it also strengthens India's tendency to not buy American. Which limits Indian options even further in the late 90s period.

2. Modifying one of those small carriers for stobar operations?
Maybe, but that means a new ship - the Invincibles are way too small for STOBAR ops. That means the timing problems crop back up again, and the sanctions mean a Wasp derivative is almost impossible.

i didnt know the Harrier 2s lacked the anti ship missiles of the Sea Harriers!

given some of the issues India has had with the Vik, and more so with the MiG-29Ks..
how likely do you think they may replace this ship a lot earlier than planned?
 

CV12Hornet

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1. In regards to the ageing Harrier issues, what about the US Harrier 2s? they still seem to be in service if I'm not wrong
Harrier IIs would be a good buy from a lifespan perspective. But they don't seem to have been considered; India's response to their aging Harriers was to push all their chips into the STOBAR table, and then all the delays to Vikramaditya and Vikrant started happening, at which point there wasn't much point to buying Harrier IIs just to run them for a "few" years.

There are other factors at play as well. On the technical side, the Harrier II lacked the antiship capabilities of the Sea Harrier - the former could only fire Maverick missiles, while the latter had the Sea Eagle, a much more capable missile. MiG-29Ks, meanwhile, can fire Kh-31 and Kh-35 missiles, also a major step up from Mavericks. Further, this was around the time the US sanctioned India over their nuclear tests. Not only does that make acquiring the mostly-American Harrier II, it also strengthens India's tendency to not buy American. Which limits Indian options even further in the late 90s period.

2. Modifying one of those small carriers for stobar operations?
Maybe, but that means a new ship - the Invincibles are way too small for STOBAR ops. That means the timing problems crop back up again, and the sanctions mean a Wasp derivative is almost impossible.

i didnt know the Harrier 2s lacked the anti ship missiles of the Sea Harriers!

given some of the issues India has had with the Vik, and more so with the MiG-29Ks..
how likely do you think they may replace this ship a lot earlier than planned?
Vikramaditya isn't going anywhere anytime soon. The current plan is to replace her with Vishal sometime in the early 2030s. Knowing all the problems Vikrant is having with construction slippages - she was supposed to be ready in 2013, for god's sake - I seriously doubt the Indians will be able to meet that schedule and so Vikramaditya will have to soldier on like Viraat did. The good news: between the extended drydocking for the refit and the replacement of her original boilers she should be able to be pushed into the 2040s.

As far as aircraft, well, the Indians have kind of shot themselves in the foot on that front: Vikrant's elevators are too small to accommodate anything much bigger than the MiG-29K. In fact, they're smaller than the elevators of many WW2 carriers. Whoops! So despite India initiating a competition for Rafale M and Super Hornet fighters, they're going to have a hell of a time fitting them on the elevators, and their next-gen indigenous effort is going to be badly limited.
 
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Archibald

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As far as aircraft, well, the Indians have kind of shot themselves in the foot on that front: Vikrant's elevators are too small to accommodate anything much bigger than the MiG-29K. In fact, they're smaller than the elevators of many WW2 carriers. Whoops! So despite India initiating a competition for Rafale M and Super Hornet fighters, they're going to have a hell of a time fitting them on the elevators, and their next-gen indigenous effort is going to be badly limited.

Oh, sh*t. I didn't knew that... dear God (shall I say, dear Vishnu ?) that's very, very bad.
Carrier ain't easy business by any mean. Which make Chinese progresses even more awesome (alternately: they started in 1986 when they dismantled HMAS Melbourne and its steam cats and from there, charged ahead toward their present success)

Bad luck for the Indian with Rafale M: its wings don't fold, courtesy of a necessary commonality with the Armée de l'Air which did not existed on the Etendard days. CdG is doing with it.
Same for the two-seat variant, in passing, except in reverse: once planned as a naval Rafale B, it was canned a looooong time ago as too heavy and expensive.
 

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Fundamentally, the problem boils down to the fact that their best alternatives relied on the Harrier, and as the Indians never bought the Harrier II they were stuck with significantly older Sea Harriers.
It might have been much cheaper in the long term for them to fund a next generation Sea Harrier.
 

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As far as aircraft, well, the Indians have kind of shot themselves in the foot on that front: Vikrant's elevators are too small to accommodate anything much bigger than the MiG-29K. In fact, they're smaller than the elevators of many WW2 carriers. Whoops! So despite India initiating a competition for Rafale M and Super Hornet fighters, they're going to have a hell of a time fitting them on the elevators, and their next-gen indigenous effort is going to be badly limited.

Oh, sh*t. I didn't knew that... dear God (shall I say, dear Vishnu ?) that's very, very bad.
Carrier ain't easy business by any mean. Which make Chinese progresses even more awesome (alternately: they started in 1986 when they dismantled HMAS Melbourne and its steam cats and from there, charged ahead toward their present success)

Bad luck for the Indian with Rafale M: its wings don't fold, courtesy of a necessary commonality with the Armée de l'Air which did not existed on the Etendard days. CdG is doing with it.
Same for the two-seat variant, in passing, except in reverse: once planned as a naval Rafale B, it was canned a looooong time ago as too heavy and expensive.
I read an article on this awhile ago. Apparently, the Super Hornet will just fit on the elevators while the Rafale is almost literally only a few inches too big.
 

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