Toronto, March 12: To add to its submarine fleet strength, India has signed a US $3 Billion deal with Russia to lease an Akula-1 class nuclear-powered submarine. The contract for the Akula-1 class submarine includes refurbishment of the submarine as well as sustenance and spares support for 10 years, as well as training and technical infrastructure.
The nuclear-powered class of submarines, known in Russia as Shchuka-B is a conventional submarine armed with cruise missiles as well as torpedoes, anti-aircraft missiles and mines. The submarine which will be renamed Chakra III is scheduled to be delivered to India by 2025.
This is the third Akula-class submarine being leased by India as Chakra II had been leased for 10 years through 2022. India is currently negotiating an extension for the predecessor. The first Russian nuclear-powered submarine, Chakra was leased in 1988 for three years.
The Indian Navy also has in its fleet the indigenously-built, nuclear-propelled submarine INS Arihant, which is equipped with nuclear ballistic missiles. A second nuclear submarine, INS Arighat, will be commissioned later this year, with two more currently under construction. Read: India, Russia to Sign Deal For S400 Missile System on Vladimir Putin's Visit to New Delhi
The Diplomat reports that work on the submarine is expected to start with heavy Indian involvement in 2019. The SSN is reportedly going to be fitted with Indian communication systems and sensors and will feature a refurbished hull. These Indian-made systems will likely include the indigenously-developed USHUS integrated sonar system as well as the Panchendriya sonar, a unified submarine sonar and tactical control system.
The signing of the deal comes in the back-drop of increased tensions between India and Pakistan as well as a Chinese naval fleet that its projecting its reach in the Indian Ocean region.
Despite India increasing its weapons purchases from the U.S., Russia continues to be a vital support market for India’s defence acquisitions. The nuclear submarine deal is the second biggest defence deal with Russia after a $5.5 billion agreement to procure S-400 advanced air defence missile system which was finalised in October 2018.