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India Submarine Capabilities

The Indian Navy currently operates 14 diesel powered submarines, which are based at Visakhapatnam on the east coast and Mumbai on the west coast.[1] An additional west-coast base is also being constructed at Karwar. [2] The backbone of the fleet is formed by ten Kilo-class Type 877EM - or Sindhugosh-class - units that are being progressively retrofitted to accommodate the Klub/3M-54E Alfa cruise missile system. India also operates four Shishumar-class Type 209/1500 vessels designed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) in Germany. While the first two vessels from the Shishumar-class were built at HDW in Germany, boats three and four were constructed at the Mazagon Dock in Mumbai from packages supplied by HGW. [3] All four of the Shishumars have undergone refit since they were commissioned and together they form the 10th submarine squadron based at Mumbai.[4] The fleet's remaining vessels consist of two aging Foxtrot-class boats, which are currently being used for training purposes. In addition to the 14 active submarines, however, India is also in the process of constructing six Scorpène-class boats that are being indigenously built at the Mazagon Dock in Mumbai, albeit under the supervision of French technicians. [5]

Submarine Tables for India
 

On August 14, 2013, a series of explosions tore through the INS Sindhurakshak, the ninth of India's ten Sindhughosh-class submarines. As a result of the blasts, which were caused by unintentional weapons detonations, a fire broke out onboard, and the submarine sank at its berth. The boat had recently returned from an extensive upgrade in Russia and was docked in Mumbai at the time of the accident. Eighteen sailors perished after being trapped in the submerged hull of the vessel.[6] Official sources have stated that it is "highly unlikely" that the Sindhurakshak will be repaired and returned to service. The accident has added to the Indian Navy's concerns regarding the depletion of its aging submarine fleet. More than half of India's subs have completed 75 percent of their operational lives and some are even serving beyond their maximum service lives. By 2014-2015, only 9 of the total 14 diesel-electric vessels will be operational, due to necessary overhaul and repair processes.[7]

In addition to its fleet of diesel-electric submarines, India is also in the process of developing an indigenously built nuclear-submarine capability. While India discussed the potential of nuclear powered submarines as early as the 1960's, the development of the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) submarine program didn't begin until 1984. [8] Nonetheless, in July 2009 India launched its first ATV submarine, the INS Arihant, at the Ship Building Centre in Vishakapatnam. [9] Codenamed the S-2, the INS Arihant is expected to begin sea trials in mid-August 2013 and will subsequently be inducted into the Indian Navy. [10] The Arihant is the first of four Arihant-class submarines that will perform a strategic nuclear role. The second, the INS Aridhaman, is also being constructed in Vishakapatnam, and is expected to be launched by the end of 2013 or the first quarter of 2014. [11] The vessels are likely to carry 12 Sagarika (K-15) submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) with a range of around 700km. [12] Ultimately, the INS Arihant may carry long range 4 K-4 (3,500km) SLBM's in lieu of the 12 K-15 delivery systems. [13] In addition, the INS Arihant will carry torpedoes and submarine launched cruise missiles (SLCM).[14] India's nuclear powered submarine program is under the management and operations (M&O) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), and the Indian Navy at Visakhapatnam. [15]

The Indian Navy's area of operation includes the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal. These waters include numerous sea lines of communication (SLOC) chokepoints, such as the Strait of Hormuz, Bab El Mandeb, and the Malacca Straits. Almost 97% of India's foreign trade by volume and 60% of the world's sea-borne trade and energy resources are transported through these strategic bottlenecks. This share of critical global trade is likely to be amplified by the growing energy demands and industrial exports of East and Southeast Asia. [16]

Consequently, one of the Indian Navy's fundamental tasks involves the establishment of sea control to protect its vital SLOCs. It has traditionally paid particular attention to Pakistani Navy developments, as India and Pakistan have had numerous hot and cold conflicts over the years. Gradually, though, the focus of the Indian Navy is shifting to the Chinese Navy, as acknowledged in the recently publicized Indian Maritime Doctrine. This document reiterates earlier calls for a stronger deterrent capability against foreign intervention by non-littoral navies. [17] With this in mind, India has been modernizing its fleet and has been continually interested in procuring nuclear attack and diesel submarines, establishing two aircraft carrier groups, and developing new cruise missiles. [18] Indian officials have repeatedly indicated their concerns over China's progress on nuclear submarine construction. [19] Deterrence against non-littoral navies is not limited to China, however. The recent and planned acquisitions of naval vessels by a number of ASEAN nations are also mentioned in the doctrine. [20] In addition, the deployment of a US carrier task force to the Bay of Bengal during the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war is unlikely to have been forgotten. As such, the continued US presence at Diego Garcia and Bahrain may represent a concern to the Indian Navy. [21]

Aside from sea control and denial roles, the Indian Navy executes counter-terrorism, anti-drug trafficking, and anti-piracy operations within its area of interest. These roles are complicated not only by the large amount of shipping traffic, but also by the size of India's exclusive economic zone of 2.02 million square kilometers, to which 1.5 million square kilometers will be added in 2004 in accordance with international treaties. [22] The aforementioned choke points, in particular, represent attractive targets for potential terrorist attacks. In addition, various territorial disputes with India's neighbors remain unresolved and could lead to renewed tensions. For instance, oil and gas exploration is underway in the Sir Creek Estuary, the boundary of which is debated by Pakistan. Bangladesh and India have also both laid claim to New Moore/Purbasha Island (or South Talpatty as it is known in Bangladesh). [23]

India's ambitions for a sea-based nuclear deterrent were acknowledged in 1998. After executing a number of nuclear tests, the government declared that its future minimum nuclear deterrent (MND) would be based on a triad: a combination of airborne, naval, and land-based platforms. India's maritime doctrine further clarifies this statement by specifically calling for the establishment of a submarine-based MND. [24] The triad could be completed with the successful conclusion of India's ATV program, a lease of nuclear submarines, or perhaps, to a lesser extent with the acquisition of air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarines. [25] India has had experience leasing a nuclear-powered submarine: from 1988 to 1991 it leased a Project 670 Skat (NATO name Charlie I) class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine from the Soviet Union, the K-43 (renamed Chakra while in Indian service). The reactors were operated by a Soviet crew and the vessel was returned to the Soviet Union. [26] In order to gain further experience operating nuclear submarines, India has begun the ten-year lease of a Russian Project 971 Schuka-B (NATO designation Akula II) class vessel, a deal costing the country an estimated USD 920 million. [27] In preparation for the lease, around 300 Indian personnel underwent training at a special facility in Sosnovy Bor, near St. Petersburg. On April 4, 2012, Defense Minister A K Antony commissioned the K-152 Nerpa into the Indian Navy, rechristening it the INS Chakra II. [28] The Chakra II is armed with 300-km Klub missiles, unlike the Russian Navy's Shchuka B submarines, which carry cruise missiles with a striking range of 3,000 km. [29]

Given the various tasks and increasing role assigned to the Indian Navy, earlier strategic reviews and the Project 75 procurement plan have allegedly called for the procurement of 24 submarines to "maintain adequate operational force levels." These boats should be comprised of two locally built submarine classes. [30] On October 6, 2005, India signed a contract with France's Armaris (a joint venture between France's DCN and Spain's Navantia, formerly Izar) for six Scorpène-class vessels with an option for an additional six units, to be constructed at the Mazagon Shipyard in Mumbai. Armaris are to provide technical advisers and supply the combat and command systems, underwater sensors and communications. The six vessels will carry Exocet SM 39 missiles supplied by MBDA. [31] It was initially planned that DCN would deliver the first Scorpene in 2012, with the other vessels to follow over five years. However, complex procurement procedures and a failure to renew contracts have led to significant delays; it is now expected that the first boat will be ready for commissioning no sooner than late 2016. India is reportedly considering the installation of MESMA, the French AIP system, in the last two vessels. [32] New Delhi has also announced plans to issue a tender for six additional submarines. There are several possible contenders for the bid: DCNS with the Scorpène; Germany's HDW with the Type 214; Russia's Rubin Design Bureau with its Amur 1650; and the Spanish shipbuilder Navantia, with the S-80A. [33]

In 2004, Italy's Fincanteri entered a joint venture with Russia's Rubin Naval Design Bureau to develop a new diesel-electric submarine, the s1000, based on the Amur SSK and featuring AIP technology. [34] India was the first country to receive a briefing on the new submarine and it reportedly considered an Italian offer to built six boats for $3.5 billion but there was no subsequent purchase agreement. [35]

Sources:
[1] S. Anandan, "India to reportedly launch second nuclear submarine by 2012 end," The Hindu, 14 January 2012, www.thehindu.com.
[2] A.D. Baker, Combat Fleets of the World, pp. 289-295.
[3] "Submarine forces, India," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 11 November 2009, www.janes.com.
[4] "Submarine forces, India," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 11 November 2009, www.janes.com.
[5] "Chapter 5 - The Indian Navy and Naval Programmes," Indian Defence and Security - Industry, Forces and Future Trends, July 2000, www.janes.com; Mohammed Ahmedullah, "Indian Navy aims at ambitions future," Naval Forces, 1999, Vol. 20, No. 6, pp. 50-54; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company, http://proquest.umi.com; "Submarine forces, India," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 11 November 2009, www.janes.com; "Submarine and submersible designs, India," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 14 August 2009, www.janes.com.
[6] Kaustubh Kulkarni, "Hope fades for 18 on Indian submarine after blasts, fire," Reuters, 14 August 2013, www.reuters.com; Gardiner Harris, "Explosion partially sinks Indian Submarine," The New York Times, 14 August 2013, www.nytimes.com; PTI, "Submarine INS Sindhurakshak sinks after major blast, casualties feared," The Economic Times, 14 August 2013, economictimes.indiatimes.com.
[7] Rahul Bedi, "INS Sindhurakshak: Indian Navy's submarine woes," BBC, 14 August 2013, www.bbc.co.uk.
[8] "India to achieve N-arm triad in February," The Times of India, 2 January 2012, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com.
[9] "Submarine forces, India," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 11 November 2009, www.janes.com; Lydia Polgreen, "India Launches Nuclear Submarine," The New York Times, 26 July 2009, www.nytimes.com; "India submarine 'threatens peace,'" BBC News, 28 July 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk.
[10] Zachary Keck, "India's First Ballistic Missile Sub to Begin Sea Trials," The Diplomat, 30 July 2013, thediplomat.com.
[11] S Anandan, "Second nuclear submarine headed for year-end launch," The Hindu, 14 January 2013, www.thehindu.com.
[12] "Submarine and submersible designs, India," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 14 August 2009, www.janes.com; "India: Military: Arihant- Advanced Technology Vessel," Global Security, www.globalsecurity.org; "India to achieve N-arm triad in February," The Times of India, 2 January 2012, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com.
[13] "India to achieve N-arm triad in February," The Times of India, 2 January 2012, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com.
[14] S. Anandan, "India to reportedly launch second nuclear submarine by 2012 end," The Hindu, 14 January 2012, www.thehindu.com.
[15] "Submarine and submersible designs, India," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 14 August 2009, www.janes.com; "India: Military: Arihant- Advanced Technology Vessel," Global Security, www.globalsecurity.org.
[16] "Chapter 5 - The Indian Navy and Naval Programmes," Indian Defence and Security - Industry, Forces and Future Trends, July 2000, www.janes.com; "Submarine and Submersible Designs, India," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems , May 29, 2002, http://juws.janes.com; Rahul Behdi, "India outlines vision of future nuclear navy," Jane's Defense Weekly, June 16, 2004, http://jdw.janes.com.
[17] "Aquatic aspirations," Force online edition, July 4, 2004; "Indian article: Maritime Doctrine envisages formidable Blue Water Capabilities," FBIS Document SAP20040709000082.
[18] "Chapter 5 - The Indian Navy and Naval Programmes," Indian Defence and Security - Industry, Forces and Future Trends, July 2000, www.janes.com; "Submarine and Submersible Designs, India," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems , May 29, 2002, http://juws.janes.com.
[19] Rajat Pandit, "India Worried About China's Growing N-Sub Prowess," The Times of India, May 6, 2008, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com.
[20] "Aquatic aspirations," Force online edition, July 4, 2004; "Indian article: Maritime Doctrine envisages formidable Blue Water Capabilities," FBIS Document SAP20040709000082.
[21] "Chapter 5 - The Indian Navy and Naval Programmes," Indian Defence and Security - Industry, Forces and Future Trends, July 2000, www.janes.com; "Submarine and Submersible Designs, India," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems , May 29, 2002, http://juws.janes.com; Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, "Huge demands made on India's depleted navy," Jane's Navy International, April 1, 1999.
[22] "Chapter 5 - The Indian Navy and Naval Programmes," Indian Defence and Security; "Submarine and Submersible Designs, India," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, May 29, 2002, http://juws.janes.com.
[23] Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, "Huge demands made on India's depleted navy," Jane's Navy International, April 1, 1999; Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, "Huge demands made on India's depleted navy," Jane's Navy International, April 1, 1999; "India," CIA Factbook, www.cia.gov.
[24] Rahul Behdi, "India outlines vision of future nuclear navy," Jane's Defense Weekly, June 16, 2004, http://jdw.janes.com; "Aquatic aspirations," Force online edition, July 4, 2004; in "Indian article: Maritime Doctrine envisages formidable Blue Water Capabilities," FBIS Document SAP20040709000082.
[25] "Asia and Far East: India," Military Technology, Vol. 27, No.1 (January 2003), pp. 280-284; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company, http://proquest.umi.com.
[26] Yuriy Golotyuk, "My na lodke katalis...," Vremya novostey, February 15, 2001; in WPS Oborona i Bezopasnost, February 19, 2001; in Integrum Techno, www.integrum.ru.
[27] "India Launches Nuclear Submarine," Jane's Intelligence Weekly, 4 April 2012, www.janes.com.
[28] ET Bureau, "INS Chakra: Govt Inducts Russian-origin Akula II class Nerpa into Navy," The Economic Times, April 4, 2012, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com.; "Submarine and submersible designs, India," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 14 August 2009, www.janes.com.
[29] Rajat Pandit, "India becomes 6th nation to join the elite nuclear submarine club," The Times of India, 24 January 2012, articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com.
[30] "Submarine and submersible designs, India," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 14 August 2009, www.janes.com. "India: Military: Arihant- Advanced Technology Vessel," Global Security,; "India to receive Nerpa submarine in May 2010," The Economic Times, 28 December 2009, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com.
[31] "Submarine and submersible designs, India," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 14 August 2009, www.janes.com;"India: Military: Arihant- Advanced Technology Vessel," Global Security, www.globalsecurity.org; "India to receive Nerpa submarine in May 2010," The Economic Times, 28 December 2009, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com.
[32] Josy Jones, "Scorpene project to miss target again as Spanish consultants quit," The Times of India, 15 April 2013, articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com.
[30] Rahul Bedi, "Is privatisation the panacea for India as it grapples with the spectre of obsolescence?" International Defence Review, http://jdw.janes.com, December 1, 2005; "Submarine forces, India," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 11 November 2009, www.janes.com.
[31] "Submarine forces, India," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 11 November 2009, www.janes.com.
[32] Shiv Kumar, "Navy pitches in for Russian Amur submarine," The Tribune, 24 January 2007, www.tribuneindia.com.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents.

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