Leased Sub Key to India’s Naval Modernization

Leased Sub Key to India’s Naval Modernization

India recently inducted a leased Russian Akula-class nuclear submarine into its naval fleet, rechristening it Indian Navy Ship (INS) Chakra. This will be the Indian navy’s second such stint with a submersible nuclear vessel: In 1987, India leased a Charlie-class nuclear submarine for three years from the Soviet Union.

The INS Chakra, known in the Russian navy as the K-152 Nerpa, was initially conceived in the early 1990s under Russia’s Project 971 M Shchuka-B class nuclear-powered submarine program. Though the keel of the submarine was laid in 1993, the project was delayed due to Russia’s economic hardships after the Cold War. In 2004, Russia agreed to lease the submarine to India for 10 years at a cost of $920 million.

The lease’s terms of use and rules of engagement forbid India from mounting nuclear weapons onboard and restrict the submarine’s use as an offensive platform during times of war. These constraints are similar to the stipulations that accompanied the leasing of the Charlie-class nuclear submarine in 1987. In addition, a number of classified weapon systems included under the original Project 971 program have been scrapped from the leased vessel. For example, the INS Chakra comes without the RK-55 Granat Sampson Strategic Cruise Missile, an equivalent of the U.S. Navy’s Tomahawk.

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