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By Bulbul Singh

05 Jul 06. India and Russia have agreed on an agreement under which India will lease two nuclear submarines.

India had been negotiating the lease of a nuclear submarine for several years but the process had got stuck due to agreement on Intellectual Property Rights on defense, which was settled last year.

India is looking for a nuclear submarine for the Indian Navy to train its personnel on all aspects of the operation of a nuclear submarine in advance to its own nuclear submarine Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) currently under construction at Naval Dockyard, Vishakhapatnam in southern India. The homemade nuclear submarine is being built secretly with the help of Russians and has even been named as a Classified subject. The deal was struck between the two countries during the June 19-23 visit of the Indian Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash to Russia who also visited the shipyard in St Petersburg which is building the two nuclear submarines for India.

The lease will be for a minimum period of three years, but no details are known on the amount and other details of the deal, which is being kept as a closely guarded secret by the Indian defence ministry and the Indian Navy. However sources in the Indian Navy said, lease of one Akula class submarine will cost around $650m.

Indian Navy officials will be trained in batches beginning this year itself in Russia on al aspects of the operation of the nuclear submarine. These personnel of the Indian Navy official will ultimately take command of the Advanced Technology Vehicle which is due for commissioning by 2008. Sources in the Indian Navy said, a Training Centre has been built at Sosnovy Bor near St. Petersburg where the Indian personnel will be trained on the Russian nuclear submarines. A simulator, not an actual reactor, has been built at the Training center which can train up to 300 personnel on operations of a nuclear submarine.
The nuclear submarine is being built by the Russians under the Nerpa-1971 project and will be equipped with nuclear capable missiles with a range of 300 kilometers. Besides, cruise missiles and anti-submarine torpedoes will be fitted on the nuclear submarines being built by the Russians.

The second nuclear submarine, Kuguar, is being constructed at the Sevmash facility in Severodvinsk.

In 1988 India leased a Soviet Charlie class nuclear powered submarine, Chakra for a period of three years and the submarine returned to Vladivostock in January 1991. The leasing of the nuclear submarine was helpful in the design and development of India’s nuclear submarine, Advanced Technology Vehicle (TV) said sources in the Indian Navy. The ATV project is in full swing and is expected to roll out the first ATV submarine in 2008. Early this year, India’s private sector building company, Mumbai based Larsen and Toubro (L&T)received an order for the production of two ATVs.

The first ATV which is currently under construction at the Naval Dockyard is being built under joint collaboration of state owned defense research agency, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)and the state owned atomic agency, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre(BARC), Mumbai.

The three major components of the ATV – the engine/propulsion system, the shaft system and torpedo capsule are now under the integration stage. The engine propulsion system and the shaft system have been designed and developed by Mumbai-based private company Larsen and Toubro (L&T), the Mumbai based state owned Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) has given the nuclear propulsion technology to L&T to build the power pack for the ATV project. A senior official of the Indian defence ministry said, a formal agreement will be inked taking into consideration all aspects of multi-national agreements on the issue. The official also indicated that India will be open to the idea of buying the two Akula class submarines

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