In a deal reportedly worth close to $2 billion, India is set to acquire a second Akula 2 nuclear powered attack submarine from Russia.
Facts about the deal which you must know :
- The contract for this, which has been unannounced so far, was finalised and signed in Goa along with a slew of other defence deals worth more than $5 billion which have been made public.
- According to reports, the deal was signed on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Goa, but was not publicly announced. However, Russian journal Vedomosti has confirmed that the agreement was one of the deals signed alongside many more big-ticket defence deals between India and Russia. Vedomosti columnist Alexei Nikolski wrote: “According to a source in the Russian defence industry, the long discussed lease to transfer a multipurpose Project 971 nuclear submarine to India from the Russian Navy was signed in Goa.”
- The Indian Navy already operates an Akula 2 class nuclear submarine, INS Chakra (formerly known as K-152 Nerpa), which was leased from Russia and commissioned on April 4, 2012 after India paid for its completion and sea-trials.
- The lease of the 8,140 ton submarine was signed for a period of 10 years and with the lease set to expire in a few years, the Indian Navy has been keen acquire a second Russian nuclear submarine.
The Akula 2 class submarine, while not the latest class of nuclear powered fast attack submarine in the world, is still considered one of the most advanced.
Capable of sailing at speeds up to 35 knots (nearly 65 km per hour) under water, the Akula 2 is among the quietest submarines to have been built by Russia, a defining feature of the boat which makes tracking it underwater very difficult.
Armed with torpedoes and cruise missiles (should India choose to install them), the submarine can strike enemy ships, submarines and also targets on the land. Like most other nuclear powered submarines, its range of operations is essentially unlimited since its 190 Mega Watt nuclear power plant is unlikely to need refuelling during the course of the life of the submarine. In practical terms, however, operational deployments of nuclear submarines are limited by the amount of food which can be carried on-board for its crew and the mechanical reliability of its installed systems.
Like the INS Chakra, the second Akula 2 submarine being leased from Russia is likely to be based in Visakhapatnam and would have two roles – defending India’s fleet of nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines, the first of which, Arihant, is at an advanced stage of weapons-testing.
The Akula 2 could also be used to track Chinese nuclear powered attack submarines which are increasingly frequent visitors to the Indian Ocean where they are regularly deployed as part of what the Chinese say are anti-piracy missions.