Russia has decided to lease out a second nuclear attack submarine (SSN) of Project 971 Shchuka-B (NATO: Akula-class) to India this month in a deal worth around $2 billion.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had signed the deal—along with a host of other weapons purchase agreements—on the sidelines of the BRICS summit recently. However, it was not part of the announcements that were made after the talks.
The Russian Navy will transfer the submarine after it has been repaired and modernized.
The lease of the first Akula-class submarine (or INS Chakra) expires in 2021.
The Akula 2 class submarine is expected to arrive in Indian waters in 2020-21.
At the moment Indian Navy operates INS Chakra (formerly known as K-152 Nerpa), leased to India by Russia for 10 years. It was commissioned on April 4, 2012 after India paid for its completion of its construction and sea-trials.
As per Russian reports, India was eyeing much more advanced Project 885 Yasen-class, but Moscow currently only has oneYasen-class boat in service— K-560 Severodvinsk.
The Akula-class submarine is nuclear powered and armed with conventional land attack missiles.
Just days before, India’s first indigenously-constructed nuclear submarine INS Arihant was quietly commissioned into service in August and it has been operational since then. Arihant is India’s first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine and is propelled by an 83 MW pressurised light-water reactor at its core. Russia helped scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in miniaturising the reactor to fit into the 10-metre-wide hull of the nuclear submarine.
INS Arihant can carry nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, the class referred to as Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear (SSBN). Designed to cruise under the waters, the submarine offers India with an assured second strike capability. The design of Arihant is based on the Russian Akula-1 class submarines, of which the best-known example is the INS Chakra. It will weigh around 6,000 tonnes.
With INS Arihant, India has joined the elite squad of countries like Russia, China, France that possess nuclear-powered submarines.
With INS Arihant, India has completed its long-awaited nuclear weapons triad — the capability to launch nukes from land, air and sea.
Interestingly, Pakistan does not possess a nuclear submarine. China has four nuclear-powered submarines in operation, a number that will go up to six in a couple of years.
Of late, India has been concerned with the presence of Chinese nuclear submarines in the Indian Ocean region. The addition of INS Arihant will certainly add to counter the threat of China advancing into the Bay of Bengal as well.