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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 June, 2003, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
India receives 'stealth' warship
The Russian-built frigate INS Talwar
The Talwar had problems with its surface-to-air missile system
The Indian navy has finally taken delivery of its first Russian-built "stealth" warship, following an 18-month delay caused by problems with the vessel's weapons system.

The INS Talwar is the first of three Krivak class frigates commissioned from Russia in a $1bn deal.

The warships, which are designed to be less visible to enemy radar, were initially rejected because the surface-to-air Shtil missile system failed during a test flight.

After correction work, the 4,000-tonne Talwar was finally handed over to Indian naval officials at a ceremony in Russia's northern port of St Petersburg on Wednesday.

All three ships should now be commissioned this year.

Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes will receive the second, the Trishul, during a visit this month.

Cruise missiles

The Talwar, said to be the most modern Russian ship ever offered for export, is armed with surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles and has anti-submarine capabilities.

Admiral Madhvendra Singh, chief of the Indian naval staff
Admiral Singh says the frigates will extend the navy's strike range

The Indian navy is the first foreign force to induct the stealth class Russian warships and plans to equip them later with the Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles.

Admiral Madhvendra Singh, chief of the Indian naval staff, said the Talwar was able to hit targets much further away than any other ship in the fleet.

Admiral Singh said the commissioning "symbolises and reinforces the historic ties between Russia and India".

He said that in the future India hoped to build most navy ships at its own shipyards, although Delhi would still buy equipment from foreign countries, particularly Russia.

The Indian navy has also begun sea trials of home-built stealth frigates.

The INS Shivalik began trials in April and is the first of 12 such warships the navy plans to build.

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