India and Russia will undertake advanced discussions this week on the leasing of a second nuclear attack submarine which have been ongoing for a while.
An Indian delegation is heading to Russia in the next few days to carry out talks on the issue, official sources told The Hindu.
On Tuesday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Dmitry Rogozin chaired the 22nd session of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) setting the agenda for the summit-level meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin next month.
Russia has already leased an Akula class nuclear attack submarine to India for 10 years as a package deal along with aircraft carrier Vikramaditya which was commissioned into the Indian Navy as INS Chakra in 2012.
Informed sources said that while Russia has offered another Akula SSN on lease, India is interested in a different and a newer class of boat. Officials expressed hope of concluding a deal very soon.
Submarines are considered the most potent offensive military platforms. While conventional diesel-electric submarines have limited range and endurance, nuclear powered submarines are free of such limitations.
Powered by a nuclear reactor which gives virtually unlimited range and endurance, the submarines can silently traverse oceans hunting for enemy vessels. Nuclear submarines are of two types, nuclear attack submarines (SSNs) and ballistic nuclear submarines (SSBN).
SSBNs are specifically meant to carry missiles armed with nuclear warheads and assure a nation’s second strike capability if attacked first by nuclear weapons.
India’s first SSBN Arihant powered by a 83 MW ncuelar reactor has been under sea-trials since 2009 and is all set for commissioning. At least two more boats of the same class are in various stages of construction.
In February last, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has approved the design and construction of six SSNs domestically. By the approval, the government had converted part of the ambitious 30-year, 24 submarine building plan from conventional to nuclear.
The plan is to design and build an indigenous SSN based on the experience gained from Arihant and they will be built at the same Submarine Building Complex in Vizag.
The programme is on track and the design phase is progressing as per schedule, officials said without elaborating further.
Senior Navy officials had in the past expressed confidence that they would be able to reduce the timelines for such a complex project which typically takes about 15 years.
Indian Navy currently operates thirteen conventional submarines and one nuclear attack submarine leased from Russia. In contrast, China operates five SSNs, four SSBNs and over 50 conventional submarines.