India will lease a Russian nuclear-powered attack submarine in a deal that could be worth $2.5 billion according to new reporting from Manu Pubby of ThePrint.
The submarine is slated to serve in the Indian Navy for 10 years.
According to Pubby, ‘lease plans and discussions are being kept under wraps by both sides’ but ‘work is on at a fast pace since the agreement was signed in October last year.’
The submarine, provisionally named Chakra III, won’t be joining the navy any time soon. Pubby reports that refitting of the vessel will happen at the Severodvinsk shipyard in Russia and is expected to take 78 months- nearly six-and-a-half years.
The Indian Navy previously leased two other Russian nuclear attack submarines. One of these, INS Chakra, a modified Akula-class submarine has been in service under a 10-year lease since 2012.
The Russian nuclear submarines are being leased to give the Indian Navy deeper operational experience in sailing and maintaining such vessels.
The deal will also transfer expertise in building nuclear powered submarines. ‘Negotiations are currently on to embed a team of Indian shipbuilders to go through the refit process – which will basically build up the entire submarine again from an empty hull – to give them hands-on experience with complex submarine technology’ Pubby reports.
Ambitious Expansion Plans
News of progress in plans to lease a third Russian submarine comes just as the navy is preparing to launch its second locally built nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine, the INS Aridhaman.
The Aridhaman, which was being built at Ship Building Centre, Visakhapatnam is expected to be launched by October. After that, the vessel’s many systems will be tested, followed by sea trials. The navy’s hoping to add the Aridhaman to its active fleet within the next two years.
Once deployed, the Aridhaman’s missile hatches are expected to house 24 nuclear capable K-15 Sagarika ballistic missiles with a maximum range of 750 kilometres.
At present, the Indian Navy fields 15 submarines- 13 of these are diesel-electric attack submarines. The remaining two are nuclear powered. One is the INS Arihant, India’s first locally built ballistic missile submarine, which entered active service last year. The other is INS Chakra, the nuclear powered attack submarine leased from Russia in 2012.
In 2015, the vice chief of Naval Staff, P. Murugesan revealed that the navy plans to induct a further six nuclear powered attack submarines, though he did not mention a timeline.
While ballistic missile submarines form the third leg of the nuclear triad, attack submarines are meant for warfighting and will be armed with both torpedoes and Brahmos cruise missiles.