India on Monday joined an exclusive club of five nations that operate nuclear-powered submarines, with Russia handing over an Akula-II class attack submarine to the Indian Navy at Primorye, a Russian naval port.
The delivery of the submarine, which came after several delays, was part of a secret 2004 deal worth almost $1 billion (Rs 5,040 crore). Apart from India, the US, UK, Russia, France and China have nuclear-enabled submarines.
The Indian Navy has acquired the submarine, now christened INS Chakra, on a 10-year lease.
India, however, 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 towards the end of this year.
Arihant will be equipped with K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (a closely guarded DRDO secret), capable of delivering a nuclear warhead up to 700 km.
The Russian-built INS Chakra cannot deliver nuclear warheads in its current configuration. It will carry torpedoes, land-attack cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles.