At a recent press conference, the
Russian Defense Minister recently refused to answer a question about the long
rumored Indian leasing of a Russian nuclear submarine. Last December, Indian
officials officially acknowledged that it is leasing at least one Russian Akula
II SSN (nuclear attack submarine), which will enter Indian service in 2009.
That sub is currently undergoing trials in the Pacific ocean. It's unclear why
the Russians are being coy about all this.
Before last Decembers
announcement, persistent rumors had it that, three 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.
ton Akula IIs are recently built, and each requires a crew of 51 highly trained
sailors. The Indian money enabled Russia to complete construction on at least
two Akulas. These boats 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.
expects to complete construction of its own nuclear sub design in a year or
two, 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 submarine force.
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. In the late 1980s, India leased a Russian nuclear sub for
three years, providing Indian sailors with an opportunity to become very
familiar with the technology.
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 entered service two years ago,
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 leased 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.