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By Bulbul Singh

05 Aug 08. Indian scientists have completed work on the homegrown secretive nuclear submarine, code named Advanced Technology Vessel [ATV] project with overseas help say sources. With the majority of integration work being completed, the sea trials are slated for next year.

Sources in the Indian Navy say that integration of all the sub-assemblies of the nuclear submarine are complete, and the sea trials will begin in mid-2009 which will last for around two years after which the nuclear submarine will be commissioned in the Indian Navy.

The nuclear submarine, a classified project is currently being built at Visakhapatnam naval shipbuilding Centre and is being built nearly 50 meters below the ground level.

The land-based trials of the nuclear reactor was tested in 2006 and the hull of the submarine has been laid by the private sector defence major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Ltd.

Once commissioned the submarine will be mounted with sea-launched nuclear ballistic missiles, currently under development. So far the Indian forces can deliver nuclear capable ballistic missiles via air, and land. The ATV submarine will provide unlimited endurance to the submarine as it will be based on nuclear propulsion said a senior Indian Navy official. The ATV has taken support and assistance from Russian scientists as the ATV is close to the design of a Russian nuclear submarine, Charlie, which India leased in the late 80s for three years.

The nuclear reactor has been sealed with a special shield and the tail sector has been completed. Sources say that the work on the ATV project is ahead of scheduled and the vessel would be flooded by early 2009 leading to the launch of the vessel. The nuclear submarine is likely to be taken out of the harbour for the sea trials by mid-2009 after the testing of the blades, propellers and other control systems which will be launched after the flooding of the submarine.

Several agencies have been involved in the development of the ATV.
Indira Gandhi Atomic Research Centre at Kalpakkam near Chennai fabricated the ATV’s light water nuclear reactor. In addition to the Ship Building entre at Visakhapatnam, the other agencies involved include School of Advanced Underwater Warfare (SAUV) for training ATV crews at Visakhapatnam. Rare Materials Project near Mysore supplied enriched uranium for ATV reactor.

In addition to the acquisition of the ATV, the Indian Navy will be acquiring Akula-II nuclear submarines from Russia by 2009 while the first of the five ATVs will be commissioned in 2011.

Along with the development of ATV, work is also progressing on the development of sea-launched Ballistic Missiles and sea-launched Cruise Missiles with the help of Israel and these ballistic missiles will be mounted on the Russian Akula class submarines and the ATVs. Currently the Indian Navy has a fleet of 16 diesel powered submarines. While six Scorepene submarines are under production at Mazagon Docks Limited in Mumbai and are expected to join the Indian Navy by 2010-11.

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