New Delhi plans to commission its first nuclear powered-submarine by 2004. Altogether the Defence Ministry of India intends to build 5 nuclear-powered submarines. The plans show that India, which recently joined the world nuclear club, has decided to deploy a part of its nuclear arsenal on sea-based platforms.
The Russian Defence Ministry official newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda reported that Russia is assisting India in completing the submarine’s hull and installation of the nuclear reactor. This undermines previous statements made by Russian officials that the Indian Advanced Technology Vessel program is not based on a Russian technology.
Advanced Technology Vessel program
In January 1988, Russia leased to India a Charlie-I class cruise missile submarine. The prerequisites for this deal were not clear. However, upon the end of the lease in January 1991, India launched its so-called Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) program, reports Russian daily Russky Telegraph. Up to date, there are two submarines laid down at Indian shipyards. Three more are scheduled for the near future. The reactor installation will be tested shortly, to be installed on one of the subs reportedly by the end of this year.
During the past years, ATV has not been receiving sufficient funding, as most of the recourses were spent on development of nuclear bombs. This year, the Indian Defence Ministry has managed to increase funding by 15% for 1998/1999, amounting to more than $10 billion. The future funding has been guaranteed as well.
Blueprint of Severodvinsk-class?
According to Russky Telegraph, the hulls of the submarines laid down in India are almost blueprints of the newest Russian attack submarine, the Severodvinsk-class, which is currently under construction in Severodvinsk, Arkhangel’sk County. Indian submarines reportedly will be outfitted with one PWR reactor with a power output of 190 MW. The same machinery is placed on the Severodvinsk-class submarine.
No information is currently available on the weaponry for the Indian nuclear-powered submarines. In the meantime, India’s friends from Russia plan to armour their Severodvinsk-class with SS-N-15/16 missiles.
A group of Indian officers in Severodvinsk
Last year, a group of Indian officers arrived to Severodvinsk and settled down on Yagry island where Zvezdochka shipyard is located. Across the bay, Sevmash shipbuilding yard carries out construction of Severodvinsk-class submarines. Official returns suggest that the reason for the visit was repair works on one of the Russian Kilo-class submarines exported to India. Repairs on the submarine has been continuing for almost one year. As funding comes smoothly from India, the repair takes suspiciously long time. Put together, all the facts mentioned above give grounds to speculate that the co-operation between Russian and India on nuclear-powered submarines construction is much closer than thought before.