India is on the verge of acquiring a strategic capability to strike land targets thousands of miles from its shores by inducting the Russian underwater launched Club-S subsonic cruise missiles.
The missiles will come armed in early August on Indian Navy's new series of upgraded Kilo-class submarine INS Sindhuvijay, according to Naval sources in New Delhi.
Sindhuvijay will be the first of Kilo-class submarines to be fitted with these land attack versions of the new breaking technology Club-S cruise missiles, which have a flight range of 275 nautical miles.
"The high-precision missile can be launched from standard torpedo tubes from a depth of 35 to 40 meters," Naval sources said.
Sindhuvijay is the fourth Indian Navy's Kilo-class submarine that has been overhauled at Zvezdochka shipyard in northern Russia. Besides the land attack version, the subs are also coming armed with 3M-54EI anti-ship cruise missiles.
Labelled by NATO as one of the quietest submarines in the world, the upgraded Kilo-class subs have undergone extensive changes in the hull as well as getting improved control systems, sonars, new electronic warfare systems and an integerated weapon control system.
The Club-S missiles are new technological weapons still under development in Russia. According to Russian Naval experts, they are simultaneously being fitted in new series of submarines.
Indian Navy signed a 80 million dollar contract with Russia in 2001 to retrofit its entire fleet of ten Kilo-class submarines to enable them for firing Club-S cruise missiles.
India is also asking the Russians to change the design of Kilo-class submarines to undertake test firing of its indegenious underwater launched supersonic Brahmos cruise missiles.
Sindhuvijay was to scheduled be delivered in December last year but the Navy refused to take possession saying that new cruise missiles failed to find their targets in six consecutive test firings in September and November.
"But extensive new trials conducted in mid-July were perfect," Russian sources said.
Naval experts have described the Club-S missiles as "the most versatile weapons" with the capability of swimming out of the sea as well as vertical launch.
The new missiles use an ARGS-5 active radar seeker, new Russian Glosnass satellite and inertial guidance.
Naval sources said Sindhuvijay will start sailing from the Russian shipyard located close to the White sea on August 5 and dock at Western Naval Command base in Mumbai a week later.
Russia Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines have gained a reputation as being extremely quiet vessels and have become part of navies in India, China, Iran, Poland and Alergia.