Skip to comments.India likely to acquire another nuclear-powered submarine from Russia on lease
Posted on 10/21/2013 1:16:46 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
NEW DELHI: India now seems all set to acquire a second nuclear-powered submarine on lease from Russia, at a cost of about $1.5 billion, to bolster its ageing underwater combat arm that took a major hit with the sinking of a conventional submarine in Mumbai in August.
While the over 8,000-tonne new steel shark will have a miniaturized nuclear reactor at its core for propulsion, it will not be armed with long-range nuclear missiles because of international treaties like the Missile Technology Control Regime.
But, much like the first leased submarine INS Chakra being currently operated by the Navy, it will act as a "potent hunter-killer" of enemy warships and submarines as well as have cruise missiles to hit land targets.
Capable of operating at extended ranges for long durations, unlike diesel-electric submarines that require to surface or "snorkel" every few days to get oxygen to re-charge their batteries, INS Chakra has added some desperately-needed muscle to the country's underwater fleet of just 13 conventional submarines.
With PM Manmohan Singh currently visiting Moscow, and defence minister A K Antony to follow suit on November 15-17, the contract for the second nuclear-powered submarine from Russia is "well on the cards" now, said sources.
The deal was under negotiation for the last four to five years, as earlier reported by TOI. But it gained ground after India formally inducted INS Chakra, the Akula-II class nuclear submarine called 'K-152 Nerpa', at Visakhapatnam in April last year on a 10-year lease from Russia after paying almost $1 billion. "Moscow has been pushing the case for the second submarine for some time now... the exact terms of leasing are yet to be fully sorted out," said a source.
As part of a secretive deal inked with Russia in January 2004, India had funded a major part of Nerpa's construction at Komsomolsk-on-Amur shipyard after Russia stopped it midway due to funds crunch. It was slated for induction much earlier but technical glitches delayed the process, which included a toxic gas leak in November 2008 that killed 20 Russian sailors.
This time, India is looking for a "more advanced" submarine but may settle for another mothballed Akula submarine named 'Irbis', the construction of which again could not be completed due to financial problems after the USSR broke up in the early-1990s.
After initial teething problems, the Navy is now quite happy with INS Chakra, which is powered by a 190 mw reactor for a maximum speed of 30 knots and is armed with 300-km Klub-S land-attack cruise missiles and torpedoes.
But India's "nuclear weapons triad" the ability to fire nukes from the air (fighters), land (missiles like Agni) and sea - will only become a reality when the indigenously-built 6,000-tonne INS Arihant is ready for "deterrent patrols" towards end-2014.
After its 83 mw pressurized light-water reactor went "critical" on August 11, INS Arihant is now being "readied for extensive sea-trials", which will include firing of its 750-km-range K-15 missiles, at Visakhapatnam. Only then will the third leg of the nuclear triad be in place.
Do they have to pay a penalty if they exceed a certain number of nauts per year?