Rubin deals with both nuclear powered and diesel-electric submarines. Does a navy having nuclear-powered submarines need any other?
Ship composition of navies, not only submarine forces, is determined by plenty of factors: geographic, military and political, economic, technological and many others. Every nation, taking into account these factors and tasks to be fulfilled by the navy, strives to shape an optimum ship composition of its navy. It is a very dynamic process: situations in the world change, tasks change, equipment and technologies that ensure fulfilment of these tasks also change. The ship composition that quite recently was considered to be fitting well for the situation may become absolutely unsatisfactory in the future. The navy and its submarine force is a living organism that should be continuously improved and renovated, which should be done not only on the basis of today’s realities but in the light of perspective.
India, being one of the leading world powers, undoubtedly, needs strong state-of-the-art navy that is capable of controlling the situation over the entire Indian Ocean, both in its central deep-water part and shallow marginal seas. In view of these peculiar features of oceanic operational theatre, the Indian Navy (IN) needs both nuclear-powered and non-nuclear submarines. Modern non-nuclear submarines are capable of meeting the challenges effectively both in the open ocean and shallow littoral areas including those that are far away from their bases. These are the factors that were taken into account by Rubin for the design of Amur1650 non-nuclear submarine that we are ready to offer to the IN. Moreover, we are confident that our project meets the requirements of the IN to the fullest extent.
Discussions start in India on urgent measures to be taken in connection with the elimination of shortage in the submarine force strength. If the order is placed to Russia, how soon will we get a submarine? Should it be built from scratch or are any other variants possible?
Reduction of ship strength is a constant concern of sailors but, after a commonsense estimation of navy capabilities, it is not worth relying only on the number of ships or submarines. Capabilities of ships and submarines, crew qualifications, etc. are not of less importance. At present, the Indian submarine force is developing at a fast pace: India’s first nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant has been built and soon she will undertake trials, nuclear-powered submarine INSChakra inducted into the navy, existing non-nuclear submarines are being repaired and modernised, Scorpene non-nuclear submarines are being built. Of course, presently, the number of activeduty submarines of the navy has somewhat reduced but this can be helped, especially taking into account increasing capabilities of both new ships and modernised ones.
As to the restoration of the number of submarines, in my opinion, the problem may be quickly resolved only by purchasing submarines from one of the traditional suppliers. Perhaps, the simplest and fastest way is to buy non-nuclear submarines of Project 636 from Russia. Firstly, the IN has already mastered the operation of similar submarines and has crews who are immediately ready to accept the newly built submarines. Secondly, large number of singletype submarines in a navy makes logistics easier. Thirdly, new submarines of this Project are much more perfect than the submarines built in the Nineties, and this will enhance the navy’s capabilities. Finally, construction of these submarines at Russian shipbuilding yards has never stopped and there will be no problems related to the revival of production. Moreover, due to serial construction of submarines, they will have an acceptable price and can be inducted into the navy very rapidly. Normally, construction period of Project 636 submarine is three years from the date of contract conclusion.I would not consider other variants for rapid increase of strength of the Indian submarine force. Purchase of Amur 1650 non-nuclear submarines will considerably increase the IN’s capabilities, however, construction and mastering of these more sophisticated submarines will undoubtedly take more time. Replenishment of the navy with old, though modernised submarines (for example, Project 877), does not seem to be expedient due to militaryand economic considerations.