India and Russia signed an intergovernmental agreement for a 10-year lease of a Russian nuclear submarine this week. The deal which is worth around $3 billion. It will a third time that Indian Navy lease a Russian submarine. The first such instance was in 1988, when the Indian Navy inducted a Project 670 Skat-class (NATO classification: Charlie-class) nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine, renamed as INS Chakra, on a three-year lease. In 2012, a second INS Chakra, the retrofitted K-152 Project 971 Akula-class Nerpa submarine, was leased for 10 years. The Chakra was officially commissioned by the Navy in 2012 and currently serves with the Eastern Naval Command. India and Russia are currently discussing extending the lease for another five years which will go through to 2027.
The newly leased submarine will be designated Chakra III and is the Russian Navy’s K-322 Kashalot (Akula II-class) nuclear submarine after being fitted to the requirement of the lease it is expected to be ready for service by 2025. It is currently docked at a Russian naval shipyard in Severodvinsk.
Work on retrofitting the submarine is expected to start with heavy Indian involvement in 2019. The submarine is reportedly going to be fitted with Indian communication systems and sensors and will feature a refurbished hull. These Indian-made systems will likely include the indigenously-developed USHUS integrated sonar system as well as the Panchendriya sonar, a unified submarine sonar and tactical control system. INS Arihant has the same systems installed in it, it is the first of five planned indigenously developed nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines for the Indian Navy. The INS Arihant quietly commissioned in 2016 and is also based on the Russian Project 971 Akula I-class. A second nuclear submarine, INS Aririghat, will be commissioned later this year, with two more currently under construction.
It is to be noted that the INS Chakra III will not be equipped with long-range nuclear missiles because of bindings placed by international treaties and also because it is not meant for deterrence patrols. Its armaments will include conventional land-attack and anti-ship missiles and torpedoes.
The Akula II-class, the 8,140-ton Chakra III will have a submerged speed of 30 knots and an operating depth of 530 meters. It will require a crew of 73 to operate. The offensive capabilities include four 650-millimeter and four 533-millimeter launch tubes for firing Russian-made Type 65 and Type 53 torpedoes. The sub’s propulsion is likely to be powered by a 190-mW nuclear reactor. It is to be noted that the Kashalot reportedly achieved a Russian Navy record in the summer of 1991 by trailing foreign submarines for over 14 days without interruption.
[Defense News, RT]