Moscow: Russia handed over the refurbished aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya to the Indian Navy in a ceremony at the Arctic port of Severodvinsk on Saturday.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony attended the ceremony, Xinhua quoted arms exporter Rosoboronexport as telling local media.

The warship, previously known as the Admiral Gorshkov, is a Project 1143.4 or modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier commissioned by the Soviet Navy in 1987 and decommissioned in 1996 as it was too expensive to operate on a post-Soviet era budget.

India and Russia signed a $947 million deal in 2004 for the purchase of the carrier, but the original 2008 delivery deadline was delayed twice, pushing up the cost of refurbishing the ship to $2.3 billion.

India has already started taking delivery of MiG-29K naval fighter aircraft for the carrier.

INS Vikramaditya successfully completed its sea trails in July and aviation trails in September.

INS Vikramaditya’s commissioning is being described as “a game changer” in naval circles, and is expected to project India’s maritime power far beyond its shores. This is India’s second aircraft carrier and the navy’s biggest warship.

The aircraft carrier will be escorted by other warships during its voyage back home. It is expected to arrive in India by February 2014, Russian officials said.

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