April 5, 2012

India considering lease of second Russian nuclear submarine

Union Defence Minister AK Antony on Wednesday said that India was considering a proposal to lease a second Russian-built nuclear powered attack submarine. "There is a proposal, but we haven't taken a decision yet," Antony told the media at the induction of India's first nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN), the INS Chakra. Antony did not reveal who had made the proposal, but sources say it was made by Russia a few years back. Funds are clearly not a problem. "India can afford it (the second submarine). It is reasonable," Antony said.
The Russian-built INS Chakra has been leased from Russia for ten years. It was inducted into the navy at a small function organized at 'Jetty X' a secured anchorage inside the Shipbuilding Centre (SBC) near the naval dockyard Vizag.
The boat and its crew of 84 personnel arrived in India on May 31 after a submerged passage from Vladivostok lasting over 50 days. The induction of the INS Chakra has catapulted India into an elite club of five nations operating nuclear powered submarines.
Initially, India had planned to lease two Akula-class submarines, originally built for the Soviet navy. The lease, however, was signed in 2003 only for a single SSN. The prohibitive cost was one of the reasons cited for this decision. The total cost of the lease is around $1 billion (Rs.5,000 crore).
Antony said that the Chakra would play a major role in reshaping the Indian Navy's maritime security. As the 8,000-ton submarine's nuclear powered reactor hummed silently in the water below, dignitaries including Russia's envoy to New Delhi, Alexander Kadakin, hailed the induction as a landmark in Indo-Russian defence cooperation. "No other country is ready to share everything," Kadakin said, referring to joint ventures like the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile and the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft.
Armed with anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles and torpedoes, the Chakra is a huge force multiplier. Navy chief admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma said the induction of the Chakra would increase the navy's operational flexibility and contribute to its presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
The SBC in Vizag is a highly secured facility in Vizag guarded by electrified wire, dogs and Marine Commandos. It is the core of India's ambition for a nuclear navy under the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project jointly run by the navy, DRDO and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). Media persons were first let in here in July 2009 for the launch of the INS Arihant, the country's first indigenously constructed ballistic missile submarine (SSBN).  "In the coming months and years, you will have to come here for many more functions," Antony told media persons. The Arihant began harbor trials this year. Antony said the Arihant would be ready for sea trials later this year.
Naval officials indicate it could be commissioned in another year. Two more SSBNs, the second of which is to be called the Aridaman, are being built here.
- India Today

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