Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

Carrier, No!

Kyle Mizokami, a freelance writer on defense and military issues, has some words of wisdom for us all. Whatever You Do, Don’t Buy Your Aircraft Carrier From Russia. This is not a metaphor. You literally shouldn’t try to buy multi-billion dollar military hardware from Russia.

Essentially, India retired its one and only aircraft carrier in 2007. They needed to replace it, but couldn’t quite afford a brand new top of the line carrier. So India decided to buy one from Russia, at a price of $974 million, which Mizokami notes was “almost too good to be true.” That’s foreshadowing:

In 2007, just a year before delivery, it became clear that Russia’s Sevmash shipyard couldn’t meet the ambitious deadline. Even worse, the yard demanded more than twice as much money—$2.9 billion in total—to complete the job.

That’s pretty awful. I mean, how did th-

The cost of sea trials alone, originally $27 million, ballooned to a fantastic $550 million.

Are you kidding? What, is the shipyard building its own private lake to test this in? How are th-

A year later, with the project still in disarray, Sevmash estimated the carrier to be only 49-percent complete. Even more galling, one Sevmash executive suggested that India should pay an additional $2 billion, citing a “market price” of a brand-new carrier at “between $3 billion and $4 billion.”

You know what India needs to keep from getting strong-armed like this, and command respect on the global stage? An aircraft carrier.