After quietly commissioning the indigenous INS Arihant, India is all set to get another nuclear-powered submarine by 2020-21. According to a report in HT, Russia has agreed to lease an Akula-class submarine to India, in a deal that would be worth nearly $2 billion. The deal was reportedly finalised during PM Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual summit meeting in Goa last weekend. India already has an Akula-class submarine on lease from Russia, the INS Chakra II. The INS Chakra II is an 8,140-tonne submarine. Its lease expires sometime in 2021.
Nuclear submarines as the name suggests, are powered by a nuclear reactor. The advantage they enjoy is that they can be under water for months in a go. Within nuclear submarines, there are nuclear-powered attack submarines, or SSNs, and those that carry ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads (SSBNs). The Akula-class submarine is an SSN. This means, that even though it is powered by a nuclear reactor, it has conventional land attack missiles.
The INS Arihant, which was commissioned in August, is a 6,000-tonne submarine that is capable of launching nuclear weapons from underwater. Arihant is an SSBN, and is therefore equipped with better stealth features. SSBNs are larger compared to SSNs.
Watch: Stunning file video of INS Chakra II
The submarine is propelled by an 83 MW pressurised light-water reactor at its core. INS Arihant’s K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missiles have a range of 750-km and the K-4 has a range of up to 3,500-km.
India has only 13 conventional submarines, and these too are ageing. Even as India gets the INS Arihant and prepares to induct the Scorpene-class INS Kalvari, there are major concerns over its ability to deter and counter the enemy with such a poor number of subs. To put things in global perspective, US has over 70 nuclear submarines and Russia has around 30. China has 5 nuclear submarines are over 51 conventional subs. It is already on course to induct around five SSBNs with missiles that have a range of up to 7,400 km!
Apart from finalising the submarine deal, India and Russia signed defence pacts worth nearly Rs 72,000 crore during Putin’s visit. The most significant of this was the Rs 39,000 crore deal for S-400 Triumf air defence missile system. This weapons system, said to be one of the most modern in the world, will act as an effective deterrent from incoming threats from China and Pakistan. India also signed the deal for manufacturing 200 Kamov 226T military choppers and a multi-billion dollar pact for four stealth frigates.