Wednesday, April 4, 2012

India commissions nuclear powered submarine 'INS Chakra'

'INS ChakraIndia has inducted Russian- made nuclear powered submarine 'INS Chakra' into the Navy, joining an elite group of five nations possessing such sophisticated warships.

submarine 'INS ChakraDefence Minister A K Antony formally commissioned the Akula II class Nerpa, rechristened INS Chakra, into the Navy at the Ship Building Complex in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday.

With the country entering the select club consisting of the US, Russia, the UK, France and China with nuclear submarines after a gap of two decades, Antony said, "INS Chakra will ensure security and sovereignty of the country."

He did not subscribe to the view that the induction of nuclear powered submarines will lead to any arms race in the region. He said the armed forces will be strengthened to meet any challenge.

"India does not believe in arms race. We are not a confrontationist nation. We are a peaceloving nation....but, at the same time, the armed forces will be strengthened to meet any challenge," Antony told reporters when asked about Pakistan's reaction that INS Chakra's induction will lead to arms race in the region.

"We have a vast land border. We have more than 7500 kms of coastline and more than two lakhs EEZs (Exclusive Economic Zone). We have to protect the sea lanes of our core area of interest," he said.

With INS Chakra and indigenously built INS Arihant expected to start operational patrols soon, India will soon have two nuclear submarines guarding its vast maritime boundary.

To a question on China's increasing military capability, Antony said “Induction of INS Chakra or Vikramaditya (aircraft carrier) warships or any other platform is not aimed at any country. It is to strengthen our national security to meet any challenge more effectively.”

With a maximum speed of 30 knots, the submarine can go upto a depth of 600 metres and has an endurance of 100 days with a crew of 73.

The vessel is armed with four 533mm torpedo tubes and four 650mm torpedo tubes. India had leased and operated a Charlie class Russian nuclear submarine in 1988 for training its personnel on such submarines.

Antony said, "INS Arihant will be ready for sea trials sometime this year."

He also said the induction of INS Vikramaditya, earlier called 'Admiral Gorshkov', will take place sometimes early next year.

On future induction of platforms in the Indian Navy, he said four warships, including INS Vikramaditya, were expected to be delivered at the end of this year, besides 15 fast interception craft.

"In the next few years, the Navy will get more submarines," the Defence Minister said.

He refused to share details with the media about the cost of leasing INS Chakra from Russia. He said there is a proposal for leasing another submarine but refused to take queries on the issue.

"There is a proposal. But we have not taken any decision...Cost is not necessary, but India can afford it," Antony said.

On whether the process of procuring submarines from Russia was too long and slow, he said, "We want speedy procurement and we will modernise our armed forces as quickly as possible. At the same time, zero tolerance to corruption is also our policy."

INS Chakra has been taken on lease from Russia for 10 years and would provide the Navy the opportunity to train personnel and operate such nuclear-powered vessels.

India had signed a deal with Russia in 2004 worth over USD 900 million for leasing the submarine.

It was expected to be inducted a couple of years back, but after an on-board accident in 2008, in which several Russian sailors died, the delivery schedule was changed.

Indian Navy personnel have already been imparted training in Russia for operating the submarine.

A crew of over 70 people, including around 30 officers, is required to operate INS Chakra.

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