For the first time, India has
officially acknowledged that it is leasing at least one Russian Akula II SSN
(nuclear attack submarine), which will enter Indian service in 2009. Persistent
rumors had it that, 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. There were hundreds of sailors and government officials
involved in this operation, and, while tidbits of information kept leaking out,
the government refused comment. The 7,000 ton Akula IIs are recently built, and
have a crew of 51. The Indian money enabled Russia to complete construction on
at least two Akulas that were less than half finished at the end of the Cold
War. This was another aftereffect of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Several
major shipbuilding projects were basically put on hold (which still cost a lot
of money), in the hopes that something would turn up. In this case, it was
Indians with lots of cash.
India also expects to complete construction of its
own nuclear sub design in two years, and begin sea trials and tests. This boat
is based on Russian technology, but is basically Indian designed and built. The
Russian Akula will basically serve as a training boat for India's new nuclear
The new Indian SSN is 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.
The ATV will be a 5,000 ton boat, and comparisons
are being made to the new Chinese 093 (Shang) class, 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.