India May Lease A Second Nuclear-Powered Attack Submarine From Russia: Report

India May Lease A Second Nuclear-Powered Attack Submarine From Russia: ReportINS Chakra
Snapshot
  • India could lease a second nuclear-powered attack submarine from Russia. It has already signed a deal for leasing an Akula-class SSN

Ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to India later this year, New Delhi and Moscow have opened discussions on the possibility of the Indian Navy leasing a second nuclear-powered attack submarine or SSN from Russia, an India Today report says.

India has already sealed a $3 billion deal with Russia for leasing an Akula-class SSN. The boat, to be known as Chakra III, is likely to be delivered to India sometime around 2025 after extensive refurbishment. It will be a replacement for INS Chakra, which was leased from Russia, commissioned into the Indian Navy in 2012 and returned to the country of her origin earlier this year, months before the expiry of the lease.

Having two SSNs will allow the Indian Navy to operate two independent carrier battle groups with INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant, the report says, adding that the boats could also be used as escorts for Arihant-class ballistic missile submarines of the Indian Navy.

The submarines will also be used for training the crew for six indigenous SSNs that India plans to build. The programme is currently in design phase and the first indigenous SSNs will be ready only after 2030.

Like SSBNs, SSNs are powered by nuclear reactors and can remain underwater for long periods of time, much longer than diesel-electric submarines or SSKs, which have to surface at regular intervals to charge their batteries which power them under water. But while SSBNs armed with nuclear-tipped missiles, SSNs carry conventional weapons.

The first SSN was leased from the former Soviet Union in 1987.

India's Indigenous SSN Programme

Green light for this project was given in 2015, a year after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came to power. The initial design work had begun at the Gurgaon-based Submarine Design Centre sometime around 2017 and considerable progress has been made since.

In 2019, the government granted Rs 100 crore for the initial phase of development of these submarines. With success in the initial design phase, the programme has received clearance from the government for the detailed design phase. This means that the government will now deploy more resources for this project.

The Hyderabad-based, state-owned Mishra Dhatu Nigam, has been asked to develop an indigenous special alloy for the hull of the submarine to allow it to dive much deeper than the Arihant-class boats. The nuclear reactor being developed for the SSNs will also be more powerful than the one on the Arihant-class submarines.

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