Indian Navy crew to train on nuclear-powered submarine
New Delhi (IANS): A batch of Indian Navy personnel will leave for Russia this month to get training on board a Russia-built nuclear powered submarine, which will be delivered to India by next year on a 10-year lease.
Partly financed by India under a hush-hush deal signed with Russia in January 2004 for $650 million, the 12,000-tonne Akula class attack submarine was being built at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur shipyard in Russia. It will be commissioned into the Indian Navy as INS Chakra.
"The Indian Navy crew of nearly 40 personnel will leave for the Russian port of Vladivostok in batches to train on board INS Chakra this month," said a senior naval official, requesting anonymity.
The shipyard in Russia announced last month that the submarine had been shifted out of the shipyard to a maintenance facility in Primorye territory near Vladivostok for trials in the Sea of Japan.
The Akula-II class vessels are considered to be the quietest and deadliest among Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines. The likely date of commissioning of INS Chakra in the Indian Navy is Aug 15, 2009.
According to defence officials, three domestically-designed nuclear submarines are under construction under a top-secret Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) programme at Mazagon docks in Mumbai, but the navy needs to gain first-hand experience in nuclear submarine operations, deployment and maintenance prior to the deployment of domestic submarines. The first of the three indigenous nuclear submarines is expected to begin its sea trials Jan 26, 2009.
According to experts, INS Chakra would help India fill the void caused by the delays in the indigenous ATV project to build a nuclear powered attack submarine capable of firing missiles.
Three Indian naval crews for the nuclear submarine have already been trained at the specially set up training centre in Sosnovy Bor near St. Petersburg.
The nuclear submarine leased by Russia will not be equipped with long-range cruise missiles due to international restrictions on missile technology proliferation, but India may later opt to fit it with domestically-designed long-range nuclear-capable missiles.
At present, India operates 16 conventional diesel submarines and awaits six French-Spanish Scorpene class diesel attack submarines, to be delivered between 2012 and 2017. India plans to deploy at least three nuclear submarines armed with long-range strategic missiles by 2015.
India previously leased a Charlie-I class nuclear submarine from the Soviet Union from 1988 to 1991.