The photo backdrop to Admiral Sunil Lanba’s annual Navy Day press conference on December 3 was a timely one. It showed a submerged Akula class nuclear powered attack submarine, firing a missile. Talks of leasing another Akula-2 class SSN from Russia to replace the INS Chakra at the end of its ten year lease, have reached a crescendo within the Navy in recent weeks.
Last week, a naval delegation led by Inspector General (Nuclear Safety) Vice Admiral Soonil V Bhokare returned after a tour of Russia. They inspected two Akula-2 class submarines, the Bratsk and the Samara, laid up for a deep refit at the Zvezdochka shipyard in the Arctic port of Severodvinsk. The delegation also included a Joint Secretary (Finance) in the MoD discussed the lease of one of these submarines reportedly for USD 3.3 billion (Rs 23,000 crore).
The Indian side is believed to have agreed to this amount and this could be the biggest defence deal after the two countries following the USD 5.4 billion (Rs 40,000 crore) purchase of five S-400 air defence missile systems in October and a USD 1.5 billion deal to buy two Admiral Grigorovich class frigates from Russia. Read More