India To Lease Second Russian Nuclear Attack Submarine

This is an article published in our December 2016 Issue.

Russian media reports suggest India and Russia have reached an agreement that would see New Delhi leasing a second ‘Akula’ class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) from the Russian Navy at a total cost of around $2 billion.

The deal was signed on 15 October, during the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) annual summit, held in Goa, southwest India, where Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his Indian counterpart Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reported the Russian business daily Vedomosti, the deal to lease a second ‘Akula’ class SSN to the Indian Navy was signed in Goa, adding that the deal was one of many agreements, which also included the procurement by India of the Almaz-Antey S-400 Triumf long-range surface-to-air missile system, and an agreement for the manufacture of ‘Admiral Grigorovich’ class frigates for the Indian Navy (IN). In addition, the meeting in Goa also saw agreements signed regarding the development of a Russian-Indian joint venture for the production of Kamov Ka-226T light utility helicopters.

The Russian Navy will transfer the IN’s second ‘Akula’ class SNNs after repairs and modernisation to meet India’s specifications. The IN currently operated two SNNs; the oldest of which is the INS Chakra, formerly the Russian Navy’s K-152 Nerpa, commissioned into the IN during April 2012. India’s second SSN, INS Arihant, is an indigenously-built nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine commissioned in August 2016.

India has long been looking to develop its SSN fleet, and had recently set its mind on Russia’s more advanced ‘Severodvinsk’ class SSN developed by Russia’s Malakhit Central Design Bureau. The more modern and more expensive Russian SSN was designed to replace Moscow’s aging Soviet-era submarines, including its ‘Akula’ class vessels, but Moscow currently only has one of those new SSNs, the Severodvinsk, in service as of mid-2014. An additional five to seven boats in the class are in various stages of construction for the Russian Navy but production is advancing slowly; and Moscow has steered New Delhi away from the ‘Severodvinsk’ class.

Reports suggest the delivery date for India’s second SNN is set sometime in the early 2020s, and will potentially include torpedoes and surface-to-surface missiles. However, the lease for India’s INS Chakra is also set to expire around that time, which would leave the IN with just one Russian SSN.