India on Wednesday joined an elite club of five nations that operate nuclear-powered submarines, with the Indian Navy inducting INS Chakra, an Akula-II class attack submarine.
The navy has acquired the submarine on a 10-year lease from Russia for almost $1 bn (Rs 5,000 crore). Defence minister AK Antony and navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma were present at the induction ceremony. Apart from India, the US, UK, Russia, France and China have nuclear-enabled submarines. India had inked a deal with Russia in 2004 for the submarine.
Antony said, “I wish to emphasise that our naval presence is not directed against any nation, but only to act as a stabilising force and protect our strategic interests. Chakra will play a major role in reshaping maritime operations.”
Chakra is more than 100 metres long and can attain a maximum speed of 30 knots. It will be manned by a crew of 80. Powered by a 190MW nuclear reactor, the submarine has a dived displacement of 12,000 tonnes.
India had leased a Soviet Charlie class submarine, also called Chakra, from 1987 to 1991. But India will complete its nuclear triad (ability to launch strategic weapons from land, air and sea) only when it inducts the indigenous nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant, which will kick off sea trials this year.
Arihant will be equipped with K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, capable of delivering a nuclear warhead up to 700 km. The Russian-built Chakra cannot deliver nuclear warheads in its current configuration. It can carry torpedoes, cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles. The submarine was commissioned at Vladivostok in Russia on January 23.