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India will lease a second Akula-class nuclear attack submarine
June 26, 2017
INS Chakra. Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

India will lease a second Akula-class nuclear attack submarine

As part of the multi-billion-dollar defence agreement reached in the middle of October, New Delhi will be leasing a second Akula-class nuclear attack submarine (SSN) from Russia. The cost of this lease, which also includes a portion of the construction and sea trial costs, will sit at $1.5-2 billion U.S. (IHS Jane’s).

IHS Jane’s reported that this second SSN would enter Indian service from 2021/2022, effectively replacing the current Akula-class SSN in use by the Indian Navy – the INS Chakra. The INS Chakra’s lease is due to expire around that timeframe.

The INS Chakra is the second Russian SSN to have been used by the Indian Navy, which had previously procured the Project 670 Skat-class in the late 1980s to generate experience in operating SSNs.

Numerous reports indicated that the Indian Navy – at least as of late – was not interested in leasing the second Akula-class SSN. Rather, it had sought the newer Project 885 Yasen-class SSN, of which seven were ordered by the Russian Navy (with only one in service).

In parallel with the Arihant-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), the Indian Navy also placed six indigenously developed and produced SSNs in its long-term procurement pipeline.

Analysts from IHS Jane’s and The National Interest believe that India had hoped to have its design and engineering personnel participate in the production of Yasen-class SSNs as a means to build capacity for the indigenous SSN program.

Notes & Comments:

India’s indigenous SSN and SSBN programs are significant undertakings. The culmination of layers of long-standing research, development, engineering, and industry efforts in many areas, from hull design and construction, material structures development, to miniaturized nuclear reactor development (among others) have been dedicated to bringing these programs to fruition. Operating nuclear-powered submarines has been a strategic objective for New Delhi for several decades, at least.

The principal benefits of SSN and SSBNs, especially for newcomer designers and producers such as India (which require time to mitigate acoustic detectability in their SSN/SSBN designs), reside in speed, range, endurance, and payload. SSNs can be utilized as part of distant naval deployments, such as protecting a carrier group in another region. These ships have limited utility for defensive engagements, and Pakistan’s immediate proximity indicates that New Delhi’s focus (in regards to SSN/SSBNs) is more distant.

One could place New Delhi’s desire for SSN and SSBNs in its desire to cement the Indian Navy’s status as a blue-water force in general (which could further elevate the Indian Navy’s position in global maritime affairs), and in specific terms, to possess readily available assets for use in the Pacific theatre.

  • GhalibKabir

    @manju, the Yasen is off the list for us. The Russians have struggled with it themselves and additionally they are not going to part away with their ‘crown jewel’ even assuming they had more than one which they don’t.

    The current IN approach is better personally speaking. Take the Russki help on the hull and reactor designs while using French help for sonars, noise reduction assistance etc.

    in fact the rumors floating around on India buying not 6 but 12-14 more Scorpene/Barracuda SSK seems to indicate the parrikar led MoD is giving serious thought to the Indian SSN design as a mix of the Akula structure with many of the Barracuda’s features.

    Indian SSN = mongrel mix of Akula and Barracuda SSNs

    Which is not a bad idea at all.

  • SS_IND

    This should be the last of the leased N Subs as Arihant is already commissioned and Ardahiman should be commissioned late 2017. That is further 2 more of the Arihant class would be constructed thereafter. India should take technologies but build there own N subs and Aircraft Carriers. These are strategic weapons for which we should not trust anyone. And build an Indigenous ecosystem of construction and development.

    • GhalibKabir

      Hi Friend, the SSNs India will build will take 10-11 years to commission and when the Chakra and Kashalot/Irbis retire, they will be ready to take their place. a 2 SSBN fleet will need 2 SSNs at least in the interim through 2027-2028. The ecosystem you suggest is getting developed rapidly. The Arihant is the culmination of the same.

      btw, Russian news sources say India going to lease both Kashalot and Irbis. 2 SSBNs and 2 SSNs would be ideal combo to patrol area ranging from the red sea to the South China Sea/Western Pacific.

      PS: it is also possible that by the time the Kashalot arrives, Chakra might need major repairs as it would be over 40 years old by then leaving the IN with one SSN only.

      • SS_IND

        FYI The first Arihant class boat is already commissioned and the second is going to be commissioned in 2018.

        Refer -http://thediplomat.com/2016/10/india-quietly-commissions-deadliest-sub/

        • little children

          INS Arihant is the first nuclear submarine, more of a test bed to develop advanced technology. we will need atleast 15-20 years to have a more mature design. this is where russian submarine comes to picture. it not only trains crew but also give scientist a overall picture…so we need russian sub out of compulsion

        • GhalibKabir

          I think there is a confusion here, Arihant is a SSBN that is a tech test bed/limited deterrence vessel while the Aridhaman and the S-4 will be full deterrence vessels while the Akulas will be the SSNs that will accompany the SSBN on patrols as needed.

          The key issue for India to master in the SSN is ability to build a vessel with reactors that can ramp up power rapidly or ramp down rapidly esp. when chasing or hiding respectively and the ability to launch long range LACM/SLCMs at enemy land/naval facilities. This will be mutually beneficial in the SSBN program as it will allow for a bigger reactor (in excess of 25 MWe or nearly 150 MWt) to be installed in the S-5 onwards.

  • MT

    Indian SSN will require 10 yrs into making,launching. It will be based on modified Arihant next gen nuclear reactor of type S-6 given INS Arihant is S-2(experimental 83MW/30MW Real energy)Arihandam is S-3 and Other two S-4/5 reactors are in manufacturing and design phase.

    Meanwhile, Akula will provide India with relevant experience.
    Arihant is powered by 83 MW reactor with thermal efficiency of steam turbine in 35-50% range as they are not supercritical which brings total power in range of (29MW-33MW).

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