Since India finally announced, last month,
that it had been working on a nuclear submarine for decades, more details
have emerged. The sub is being called the ATV (Advanced Technology
Vessel) class. There are to be five boats in the class, assuming that
the first one works well. That first ATV SSN (nuclear attack sub) is
not expected to enter service for at least another 3-5 years.
Meanwhile, India will be taking possession of a leased Russian Akula SSN
next year. Two years ago, India arranged to lease two Akula IIs,
for several million dollars a month per sub. It has apparently taken
this long to train the crews. The 7,000 ton Akula IIs are recently
built, and have a crew of 51.
The ATV will be a 5,000 ton boat, and comparisons are being
made to the new Chinese 093 (Shang) class (PHOTO), which is a 6,000 ton boat that
just entered service last year, after more than a decade of
construction. That was China''s second class of SSNs. The first, the Han
class, was a disaster. India is trying to learn from Chinas mistakes.
That's one reason the ATV project has been kept so secret. Another reason
for the secrecy was that so much of the ATV project involved developing
a compact, light water reactor technology that would fit in a
submarine. One of these Indian reactors is being installed in a 5,000 ton
Charlie II class submarine that was purchased from Russia. This boat will
be ready for sea trails next year. If that goes well, the reactor will
be installed in the first ATV.
Once the ATV SSN is proven, a modified version will be built
as a SSBN (ballistic missile carrying sub). This was how everyone else
did it, including the Chinese. Get an SSN operational, then modify the
design to include some SLBM launch tubes.