May 25, 2012

India's Chronic Submarine Upgrade Problems

An Indian Navy Kilo class diesel electric submarine under repair at Mazagon Docks, Mumbai.
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Most countries bordering the Indian Ocean remain fairly silent about their submarine services, but, as indicated by the following India has openly described ongoing deficiencies:

"Kobus" at Naval Open Source Intelligence located the following article. January 13, 2009 IBN Live reported:

"New Delhi: Over-emphasis on indigenous work is hurting India's readiness for war.
As India's vital submarine arm struggles with dangerously low numbers, a top-end submarine has been taken out of the fleet for a repair programme.

The shocking part is that the repair schedule will last 10 years. Such upgrades have previously been done overseas in two years. One could compare this to a submarine being laid comatose, at least in the case of the INS Sindhukirti, a frontline Kilo class attack submarine of the Indian Navy.


It's been in dry dock at Vizag for a refit programme for close to five years now. It seems that Hindustan Shipyards, the government-owned contractor with little experience in submarine upgrades, will take at least another five years before the submarine can be put to water again.
Unavailable to the submarine-starved Navy for 10 of the 30 years of its useful life, the Sindhukirti is as good as a write off.

"How viable is a surgery which requires a healthy patient to be in a hospital bed for one-third of his life? That is the approximate analogy for the mid-life upgrade for this submarine INS Sindhukirti, the Dry Dock Queen. Four submarines are stuck in such protracted upgrades. Not surprisingly, just nobody is accountable," said our defence correspondent.

Russia took just two years each to upgrade six similar Kilo class submarines for the Indian Navy.
The government insists that it is now building national capability with inhouse upgrades.

"That kind of expertise did not exist in India before and this is for the first time that we are trying it out here. Instead of sending them to Russia all the way, this one is being offloaded to Hindustan Shipyards. There are some problems in their procurement procedures. It takes a little longer than is expected," said Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Suresh Mehta.

What this trade-off on time does to India's military readiness is anybody's guess. It took a recent [ Comptroller and Auditor General of India] CAG report to blow the lid of the Indian Navy's worst kept secret: that the vital submarine arm faces a crisis of numbers.

The shocking revelations of the report were:

- Only seven of India's 16 submarines are available for combat at any time.

- 10 of these 16 ageing submarines will be due for phase-out by 2012.
- To maintain current numbers, one submarine needs to be inducted every two years but there's been no addition since 2001.
- India's only submarine-making facility in Mumbai was kept idle for 12 years.

- The gaping hole in India's naval capability is showing."

Comment

PointSingularity86 reported earlier on this issue in his blog here .
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Similar delays in upgrades have haunted Australia's Collins Class Submarine program and perhaps for the same reasons. While indigenous construction and upgrades promote self sufficiency and national security they inevitably involve a lengthy learning curve denotes inefficiency, high extra costs and extended "down time" for individual subs.
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Pete

May 16, 2012

INS Teg Platform for BrahMos Test in Baltic - and what of 3M-54 Klub Sizzler?


A Talwar Class Frigate which might be INS Teg


 Possible configuration of BrahMos at initial launch stage - the "cap" might stabilise the missile's attitude during vertical launch.

Artists conception of Klub "Sizzler" missile - not necessarily a  3M-54 Klub 
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The Russia and India Report, December 1, 2011 reported: "The Russian-Indian joint sea-launched BrahMos cruise missile was successfully tested in the Baltic Sea on Wednesday, November 30."

The ship platform for the test was the Indian frigate INS Teg. Teg is one of three Russian Talwar Class (Project 11356) frigates designed and under completion by Russia for the Indian Navy. Teg is due for delivery by January 2012 followed by INS Tarkash and INS Tikand for delivery by late 2012 and 2013 respectively. The three ships will all carry BrahMos as their main anti-ship missile. Three earlier ships of the Talwar Class already delivered by Russia sport the SS-N-27 3M-54 Klub (or Club) "Sizzler" missile.

Another version of the BrahMos is under development for submarine launch by India's six Scorpene subs currently under long delayed construction. Note that the conventional Russian subs (Kilo Class) known as Sindhughosh Class in Indian service were retrofitted with the Klub-S (submarine version of the 3M-54 Klub)

Russia and India Report indicates "BrahMos cruise missiles have been adopted by India's Army and the Navy' s surface ships. The Indian Air Force has also ordered a batch of land-based missiles. Work is also underway to adapt the missile to Su-30MKI planes used by the Indian Air Force."

My Comments

Russia's announcement of the BrahMos test might perceptually make up for the delay in delivering INS Teg. An earlier October 2011 post on Australia in the Indian Ocean indicated transferral of the three Talwar class frigates to the Indian Navy would now be Teg in April 2012, Tarkash in September 2012, and Trikand in June 2013. "But nobody can guarantee that these terms will not change."

The joint Indo-Russian BrahMos project benefits India in terms of technology transfer as well as reaffirming India's good relations with Russia. India can deepen its research and weapons production base as it develops BrahMos. Although BrahMos is largely derived from Russia's SS-N-26 P-800 Oniks/Onyx/Yakhont India's contribution to the BrahMos project might tend to optimise BrahMos for Indian mission profiles and perhaps make BrahMos more technically flexible for export.

Its interesting that the BrahMos in the surface naval role for INS Teg, Tarkash and Trikand will be in place of the 3M-54 Klub (or Club) "Sizzler" fitted to the earlier three ships of the Talwar Class (already delivered to India).  The 3M-54 Klub "Sizzler" is highly capable, particularly in terms of evasive manoeuvrability - perhaps not a strong characteristic of BrahMos. Perhaps the benefits of BrahMos being made in India and optimised for India outweigh the strengths of 3M-54 Klub "Sizzler" ?

 Perhaps also an enemy carrier group might be harder pressed to counter a combination of BrahMos AND  3M-54 Klub "Sizzlers" than one missile type?

Russia meanwhile may benefit from reverse technology transfer in terms of Indian developed electronics for BrahMos radar/homing/guidance. It would be a considerable future achievement if several BrahMos when fired at a target like a carrier taskforce could electronically interact to present the greatest collective threat to a (probably Chinese) carrier and its escorts.
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Pete

Temporary Rundown in India's Submarine Numbers

Scorpene underway
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From The Times of India, August 29, 2009, comes this brief report of the weakening condition of India submarine strength vis a vis China and Pakistan:

"Scorpene project will cost Rs 2,000cr more NEW DELHI: India will have to soon shell out well over Rs [ about o.02 US$ X 2,000 crore X 10 million = US$400 millio?] more to French armament companies if it does not want its ongoing mammoth Rs 18,798 crore project to construct six Scorpene submarines at Mazagon Docks Ltd (MDL) in Mumbai to come to a grinding halt.

The Scorpene project, under which the first submarine was to roll out by December 2012, with the others following one per year thereafter, is already running two years behind schedule, as was first reported by TOI.

"Our submarine force-levels need to increase...there is no doubt. We have lost a lot of time (in the Scorpene project),'' says Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta.

Admiral Mehta, who retires after 42 years of service on August 31, has reason to be worried. India's underwater combat arm will left with only nine out of its present fleet of 16 diesel-electric submarines -- 10 Russian Kilo-class, four German HDW and two virtually obsolete Foxtrot -- by 2012.

The number will further dip to just five in 2014. This when Pakistan is now looking to induct three advanced Type-214 German submarines, equipped with AIP (air-independent propulsion) to enhance their operational capabilities, after inducting three French Agosta-90B submarines, with the last one PNS Hamza even having AIP.

China, on its part, has a staggering 62 submarines, with around 10 of them being nuclear-propelled, and at least one Xia-class and two Jin-class being SSBNs (nuclear submarines with long-range ballistic missiles).

MORE
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Comments
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As reported earlier in this blog India has one indigenous submarine launched and two more under construction. However these will only become operational in around 2012 to 2016. The Akula II Chakra/Nerpa (and another envisaged) will be training only till at least 2011 even if India effectively acquires it from Russia.
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India wishes to maintain clear dominance over Pakistan but the temporary decline in quantity and quality of India's submarines means that dominance might only be slight until around 2014.
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China is different with a strong lead. It will take perhaps 10 years for India to reduce that lead. With the three smaller and two larger submarines of the Arihant Class India is aiming to build a substantial strategic nuclear deterrent aginst China. At the same time the Arihants are likely to be multitasked as attack submarines [torpedo tubes fitted?] to destroy other Pakistani and Chinese submarines and surface shipping.
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Pete

INS Chakra (ex-Nerpa) Being Inducted into the Indian Navy




India's Economic Times April 4, 2012 reports:


'Govt to induct Russian-origin Akula II class Nerpa into the Navy"
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NEW DELHI: India is all set to join the elite club of nations possessing nuclear-powered submarines with the induction of the Russian-origin 'Nerpa' into the Navy on Wednesday. The development marks a crucial step forward in the country's defence preparedness.

Defence Minister A K Antony will formally commission the Akula II class Nerpa, rechristened INS Chakra, into the Navy at the Ship Building Complex in Vishakhapatnam, defence ministry officials said.

India [earlier leased a Charlie Class Russian nuclear submarine from since 1988 - 1992] for training its personnel on such submarines. With INS Chakra and the indigenous INS Arihant expected to start operational reconnaissance soon, India will soon have two nuclear submarines guarding its vast maritime boundaries.

Nerpa has been on lease from Russia for 10 years and would provide Navy the opportunity to train and operate such nuclear-powered vessels. "Our crews will get the experience of operating under water for several months at a go as unlike the conventional diesel electric submarines, which have to come to surface at regular intervals, nuclear submarines can remain under water for months,'' the officials said.

India had signed a deal worth over $ 900 million with Russia in 2004 for leasing the submarine. It was expected to be inducted a couple of years earlier, but after an accident in 2008, in which scores of Russian sailors died during trials, the delivery schedule was shifted.

Indian Navy crews have already been imparted training for operating the submarine in Russia. A crew of over 70 people, including around 30 officers is required to operate the INS Chakra.

The heart of the submarine is its nuclear reactor which has been made by Russia. Its displacement is around 8,140 tonnes. With a maximum speed of 30 knots, the vessel can go up to 600 meters into water 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. The indigenously built Arihant is also expected to join the naval fleet soon as DRDO chief VK Saraswat had recently disclosed that it is in advanced stages. It will be ready for operations in next few months.''

India is also working to develop arsenal for Arihant as it has already carried out more than 10 test launches of the K-15 missile (also known as Sagarika) in the Bay of Bengal. The nuclear-capable ballistic missile is said to have a range of over 700 km.' Ends
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Pete

Update on eventual Russian military equipment orders to India


An Akula Class submarine similar to (or the same as Nerpa (to be INS Chakra) theoretically on its way to Vishakhapatnam by 'next month' November 2011?).
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Periodically this blog updates the state of India's weapons' orders and development - a useful Russian article caught my eye. Viktor Litovkin of Russia and India Report (RIR) has written a detailed and interesting report concerning the many weapons system orders India has with Russia and Russia's intention to at last hand over some of them in the foreseeable future. His political asides are also interesting.

I suspect that India tolerates such a plethora of late and overbudget orders because India values its geopolitical relationship with Russia. Some assistance in thermonuclear development might also be an incentive for Indian tolerance - though I have no evidence for this suspicion. Certainly India is receiving more Russian assistance for Arihant indigenous submarine development than the Indian Navy is prepared to admit.  Prime Minister Singh  at the launch of Arihant in 2009 thanked "our Russian friends for their consistent and invaluable cooperation, which symbolises the close strategic partnership that we enjoy with Russia”.


India is in good company in that Australia has a similar relationship with the US - Australia tolerates constantly late and overbudget weapons (except Boeing's Super Hornet, the C-17 and the Abrams tank all on time and budget) from the US for the sake of Australia valuing the US alliance. Although Australia is very reliant on  the US while India (from a non-aligned position) would most probably not expect any active Russian assistance in a war with Pakistan or China.

I've paraphrased Viktor Litovkin's article here:
http://indrus.in/articles/2011/10/10/nerpa_2012_next_month_gorshkov_by_dec_13099.html

"Nerpa next month, Gorshkov by Dec 2012"

October 10, 2011

India and Russia managed to iron out some differences over delays in the supply of spares and put their defence ties on the even track during Defence Minister A.K. Antony’s visit to Russia in early October 2011. The nuclear submarine Nerpa and the much-awaited INS Vikramaditya will be heading to India "shortly" [we should wait until we see it!].
 
Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony...discussed with Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov a host of issues aimed at exploring fresh avenues for military cooperation and resolving some irritants, including spare part delays.

High on Antony's agenda was the creation of a joint project of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) [which means the T-50, PAK FA?], which has the potential to become the largest joint defence programme between the two countries. India may spend about $35 billion over 20 years to induct 250-300 PAK FAs starting from 2020, of which 214 will enter the service first.

The talks touched upon the forthcoming 10-year lease of the K-152 Nerpa [INS Chakra] multi-role nuclear submarine which will be transferred to the command of an Indian crew by December 2011 [but surely Russian engineers will need to oversee the reactors functions?].

The aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov in Russia) should be transferred to India in 2012. The aircraft carrier is already more than [only?] 85 percent complete [actual completion may be 2014 at current rate of Russian renovation].

Antony in particular, they talked about the latest delay of transferring three Talwar class Type 1135.6 frigates (INS Teg, Tarkash and Trikand) to the Indian Navy. India is now due to receive Teg in April 2012, Tarkash in September 2012, and Trikand in June 2013. "But nobody can guarantee that these terms will not change."

The Russian, Viktor Litovkin, opined "...not once in the last twenty years has Russia managed to deliver a ship on time. This includes the first batch of Indian Talwar frigates, which was built in St Petersburg's Baltic Shipyard at the beginning of this century. However, when these ships were completed and inducted, they became the pride of the Indian Navy."

According to Russian Defence Minister Serdyukov, Russia was unable to hold training exercises with India in order that Russia not send the wrong political signals to Japan during Japan's Fukushima nuclear crisis. This is in the wider context of "strained" relations between Moscow and Tokyo over the issue of the Kuril Islands.

New Delhi offered Moscow the purchase of the jointly-produced BrahMos supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles that the Indian military is actively preparing for the Coast Guard [a serious weapon for a Coast Guard!], naval surface ships and submarines. It is even planning to modify the missile for use on the SU-30MKI multi-role fighter jet - [Russia is stalling, perhaps until 2014, for more money to upgrade Indian SU-30MKI for BrahMos]  A [notional?] Russian purchase of BrahMos [Russia already builds the very similar P-800 Oniks(Onyx)] would bring significant financial benefit to both countries in the world arms market.

The Indian side probably will not agree to buy Russia's GLONASS global positioning satellite system for Indian military use. India is already using the technically mature and cheaper American GPS system. India is not yet persuaded that mounting GLONASS as a backup system alongside GPS would provide value for money for Indian Army and Naval weapons systems

While Russia's weapons trade under performance is irritating the overall Indian-Russian bilateral relationship is useful.

The full two page article is at http://indrus.in/articles/2011/10/10/nerpa_2012_next_month_gorshkov_by_dec_13099.html

Comments to follow on Israel's ABM assistance to India using the India Long Range Tracking Radar (LRTR) developed from Israel's Green Pine radar.
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Pete

May 13, 2012

India's Project 75I Tender for 6 more SSK submarines one tiny step closer

Contender for Project 75I? Model of Russia's Amur Class Submarine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amur_class_submarine  which may include 10 Vertical Launch System (VLS) cells. VLS may meet the expected missile criteria for Project 75I.

The Times of India, February 17, 2011 reports:

"Tender soon for Rs 50k crore stealth submarine project http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Tender-soon-for-Rs-50k-crore-stealth-submarine-project/articleshow/7509990.cms

"NEW DELHI: India will soon float the global tender for construction of six new-generation stealth submarines with the help of a foreign collaborator, which at a cost of over Rs 50,000 crore [equals US$11.05 Billion = 500,000,000,000 x US$0.0221 as at 17/2.2011 by my estimate] will be the country's single biggest defence project till now.

This comes after the Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC), chaired by defence minister A K Antony, last year cleared this submarine programme called `Project-75India' [shortened to Project 75I or P-75I] and then subsequently issued RFIs (request for information) to five submarine manufacturers, as was first reported by TOI.

Selection of the foreign collaborator for P-75I will, of course, come after the five -- Rosoboronexport (Russia), DCNS/Armaris (France), HDW (Germany), Kockums ( Sweden) and Navantia (Spain) -- respond with their final proposals to the tender.

"The government has cleared P-75I, which is the next lot of six submarines... At the moment we are in the RFI process. I hope within this year we would be able to push off the tender,'' said Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma on Wednesday, on the sidelines of a seminar on submarine operations.

This naval programme will clearly overtake the Rs 42,000-crore project to procure 126 multi-role fighters for IAF, so far dubbed the "mother of all defence deals'', which is in the final selection phase now.

The six new vessels will have land-attack capabilities as well as air-independent propulsion (AIP), which substantially enhances a diesel-electric submarine's capability to stay underwater without frequently surfacing to get oxygen to recharge its batteries.

As per the approved plan, while two submarines will be imported from the foreign collaborator, the other four will be built indigenously under transfer of technology. While three will be constructed at Mazagon Docks (MDL) in Mumbai, the fourth will be built at Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL) in Visakhapatnam.

MDL is already engaged in building six French Scorpene submarines under Project-75, currently valued at Rs 23,562 crore, which incidentally is running three years behind the 2012-2017 schedule set for it earlier.

Navy is keen that P-75I gets going as soon as possible since it will be left with just over half of its present fleet of 14 ageing conventional submarines -- 10 Russian Kilo-class and four German HDW -- by 2015 or so.

Though India does not have nuclear submarines and SLBM (submarine-launched ballistic missile) capabilities at present to complete its "nuclear triad'', it hopes to induct its first indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant by 2012. Moreover, it hopes to also induct the Akula-II class nuclear-powered submarine K-152 Nerpa on a 10-year lease from Russia this year."
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COMPARE WITH GOVERNMENT UPDATE IN FEBRUARY 2008
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Its interesting to see how slowly the wheels of Government move. Three years ago, on February 17, 2008 CNN-IBN reported http://ibnlive.in.com/news/navy-eyes-new-submarines-for-bluewater-capability/59174-3.html:

"...India has made it clear that it wants more muscle at sea and has kick-started the process of acquiring six new hunter-killer submarines and seven new frigates.Of particular significance is its decision to go in for a new line of submarines, which will for the first time give India an assured capability to attack targets on land from under the sea.

Request for information have recently been issued to the French DCNS, Spanish Navantia, Russian Rubin and German HDW.

[It appears the field has actually been expanded, as at 2011, with the addition of Kockums].

"It is a new submarine. It is not the Scorpene and it is a bigger submarine with specific features," Alain Fougeron, Executive VP, DCNS says about its new submarines.

The key differentiator from its existing fleet of 16 submarines will be a new class of missiles, which will establish India as the leading naval power in the region.

"The missile component of the Submarine weapon is very important and it should be very powerful," Andrey V Efimov, Manager, Rubin Design Bureau, says.

By considering four options India has sent a message that it wants to diversify its weapons procurement beyond traditional arms supplier Russia.

Its 30-year submarine building programme had envisaged a Russian line of Amur submarines beside the French Scorpene for which India signed up in 2005.

But now the Amur is not a certainty even though the Russians claim it is superior.

"Its capable of providing salvos for different targets," Efimov says about Amur submarines...."

COMMENTS
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Over three years there now appears to be more uncertainty over Project 75I with none of the previous Scorpene batch (under previous Project 75) yet being launched and the apparent widening of the Project 75I first from four to now five possible bidders. Selection for political reasons or taking into account other weapons projects may trump any pure performance criteria.

Does anyone wish to put forward a Project 75I  favourite? And for what reasons?

I was alerted to the above article by an Anonymous reader - whose tips and advice have proven very valuable over the years - Much Appreciated :)
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Pete

India's Decision To Field A Wide Range of Submarines

The Arihant ATV - testbed for India's future SSBNs and SSNs with the range to approach Chinese targets in greater open-ocean safety.
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The following are excerpts from an article from Nuclear Threat Initiative. The article provides some details about India's Submarine types, capabilities and objectives.
India Current Capabilities - Updated October 2010

"The Indian Navy currently operates 16 submarines, which are based at Visakhapatnam on the east coast and Mumbai on the west coast. An additional west-coast base is also being constructed at Karwar.
[- Ther 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 ...HDW.
- two aging Foxtrot-class boats, which are currently being used for training purposes.
- In addition to the 16 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.
- India expects to float a tender on six more diesel submarines within the next year...requests for information are already believed to have been issued to DCNS, for additional Scorpenes; HDW in Germany, for the Type 214; Russia for the Amur 1650; and Spain's Nevantia for the S-80A.]...WHOLE ARTICLE"
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PETE'S COMMENTS
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The wide range of foreign sourced submarines (Russian and western) certainly reflects India's evolutionary non-aligned status.

Reasons for the wide selection probably also reflect political motivations - not just the search for subs with the best performance at the time.

Wide selection probably also reflects India aim to transfer technology to its ATV project. The more foreign designs and testbeds (including Nerpa/Chakra) the better.

However wide selection also brings with it technical and managerial inefficiencies, leading to delays and cost overruns.

A special problem for India is the Straits of Malacca and other narrow waters obstructing Indian submarine access to China. India may well be restricted to the short-medium range K-15 as its SLBM for 20 years. Placing China's northeasterly major cities in SLBM range may require Indian submarine positioning in the South China Sea or Western Pacific. Chinese submarines, including China's more advanced (than India) SSNs, may block the narrow straits to China. China may also have deployed under-water sensing (SOSUS type) arrays in these straits - warning of Indian submarines approaching. [Seabed or thethered sensing is even more opaque a subject than the daily movements and confrontations of submarines in the oceans around us!]  All this may mean Indian submarines may need to get in adequate range of China by moving through relatively open waters via the southern Indian Ocean-south around Australia's Southern Ocean-South Pacific to China. This long voyage (if unrefueled) would require nuclear endurance - one reason for India's interest in SSBNs and SSNs.
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"Invalid" commented on January 31, 2011 3:47:00 AM

"SOSUS networks in Straits of Malacca is useless or not feasible because of heavy traffic in there to generate enough noise in the straits for a sub to sneak in."

At 16.50 January 31, 2011 concening possible capabilities of Integrated Undersea Surveillance Systems (IUSS) Pete commented

"Hi Invalid

You appear to have fairly determined views. What is your database?

Modern digital equipment permits descrimination between ship, submarine and natural sounds. Such equipment can also filter out much distortion/noise.

However sound/sonic sensing is just a small part of the spectrum of sensors (probably) available to seapowers and their allies. It is significant that the US no longer describes its network as merely "SOSUS" - rather the broader term Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS) has been more recently used.

[If one looks at the sophistication of visual spectrum networks, for example closed circuit TV (CCTV) in Beijing or London, one can get an idea of the network centric possibilities of IUSS. CCTV can detect a particular face amongst millions and follow that person across a city.] In addition to sound IUSS may well include visual spectrum, nightvision, magnetic anomoly, active sonar, infrared sesors, robotic undersea vehicles used to follow slower SSKs in particular and pressure/ripple sensors.

Undersea sensors would be just one component of a sensor network against submarines which for India would include "spy" satellites, sigint ground stations, surface ships, SSKs, aircraft and tracking information from allies (possibly the US, Russia and Singapore etc). If a Chinese SSN entered the Indian Ocean all these sensors and alliances would watch and probably handover intensively. [Information sharing may well occur amongst those countries that see China as a potential threat.]

The funneling dictated by the geography of the Strait of Malacca would assist in triggering or "scripting" the many sensor platforms available.

Regards

Pete

May 12, 2012

New Indian-Russian nuclear and military agreements, Canadian uranium soon.

Now that India's de facto weapons status has been accepted through lifting of Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) sanctions India is working quickly to access uranium and nuclear technology. One nuclear and three military agreements were concluded with Russia this week. Another nuclear agreement, with Canada, is scheduled for signature in June 2010.

The simultaneous signing of nuclear and military agreements suggest "joint development of weapons systems and platforms" will continue Russia's assistance with India's submarine reactor (first deployed in the Arihant - see "Development" section here). As the reactor has only been at sea in the Arihant for several months, has not yet been operated at sea, it is highly likely that significant development and modification of the reactor will be required over the next two years.
The expected June 2010 agreement with Canada, in part providing for export of uranium to India, may also reduce India's interest in Australian uranium. Indian bitterness however, over Australia's uranium embargo, will still remain.

Agreement with Russia - Business Standard, December 8, 2009:

"India today signed a path-breaking civil nuclear agreement with Russia that will guarantee uninterrupted uranium fuel supplies for its atomic reactors and transfer of technology and also inked three military pacts.

The agreements were signed after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the Kremlin here, during which the two leaders spoke of the need for “pinpointed” strategies to deal with terrorism emanating from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The defence agreements, aimed at moving away from a buyer-seller relationship, provide for joint development of weapons systems and platforms over a 10-year period up to 2020 and vital after-sales support for Russian equipment supplied to India to end ad hocism in this critical area.
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ITAR-TASS news agency reported that the two countries have finalised the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier deal, an irritant in the bilateral relations.

Singh described the Inter-Governmental framework agreement for civil nuclear cooperation as a “major step” forward and said India was “very satisfied” at the development of bilateral atomic cooperation.

The deal is seen as going much more beneficial for India than the historic 123 atomic agreement with the US, which does not guarantee fuel supplies without any break."


Fute agreement with Canada - IBN Live, November 29, 2009:

"India and Canada have agreed on a civil nuclear deal that will enable New Delhi to access Canadian nuclear technology and uranium after a gap of 34 years. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the development "augurs extremely well" for the ties between the nations.

The deal is likely to be signed when Manmohan Singh goes to Canada to attend the G20 summit in June next year. The breakthrough was announced on Saturday after Manmohan Singh held talks with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at this Trinidad and Tobago capital."

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Pete

May 11, 2012

India's Nuclear Submarine Status


Useful diagram of Arihant and future weapons fit. Click to enlarge.
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The following article mostly appears to be a Press Release from the Indian Ministry of Defence with little critical analysis. Omissions seem to be:
- no comment that the Nerpa was to have been in Indian hands by late 2009 - this has now slipped to early 2010, and
- if Arihant is a "technology demonstrator" due to be inducted after two more years, where does this leave the advertised simultaneous construction of the second and third Arihants. The claim in August 2009 Second indigenous Indian nuclear submarine to be launched "soon"" therefore seems unfounded and unlikely to happen for at least three years. It would be folly to launch a second Arihant when the first is still under development.
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This Times of India article, December 3, 2009, reports.
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"NEW DELHI: India's first-ever indigenous nuclear submarine, aptly named INS Arihant (annihilator of enemies), should be ready for induction into Navy in another two years or so. With progress finally being made in fulfilling India's long-standing aim to have a credible `nuclear triad', or the ability to fire nukes from land, air and sea, the Navy now wants a well-balanced underwater strategic arm. This will include three SSBNs (nuclear-powered submarines with long-range strategic missiles) and six SSNs (nuclear-powered attack submarines) in the long-term. But much before all this, Navy will begin operating a nuclear submarine by early next year.
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That is when, after several glitches, India will finally get the 12,000-tonne `K-152 Nerpa' Akula-II class submarine from Russia on a 10-year lease. Nerpa, of course, will not come armed with long-range missiles due to international treaties like the Missile Technology Control Regime. But apart from being a potent hunter of enemy submarines, Nerpa will also help train Indian sailors in the complex art of operating, maintaining and deploying nuclear submarines like INS Arihant and its already-approved two follow-on vessels....
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The over 6,000-tonne INS Arihant will be more of `a technology demonstrator', rather than a fully-operational SSBN, for the subsequent follow-on nuclear submarines to follow. At present, the government has sanctioned well over Rs 30,000 crore for the ATV project to construct three submarines, with the third being of a much larger size. The `launch' of the 111-metre long INS Arihant by flooding the dry dock at the Shipbuilding Centre at Visakhapatnam on July 26 this year, in the presence of PM Manmohan Singh, marked India's entry into the select group of five nations -- US, UK, Russia, France and China -- capable of building nuclear submarines. But there is still a long way to go. It's only after its miniature 83 MW pressurised light-water reactor is `fired' sometime next year will INS Arihant begin its extensive sea-acceptance trials.
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Then only will the testing of 700-km range K-15 SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles) developed by DRDO to arm the submarine, which has four silos on its hump, come into play. K-15, of course, falls way short of the over 5,000-km range missiles of US, Russia and China. The last, for instance, has a huge fleet of 62 submarines, with at least 10 of them nuclear-powered, and is also ready with its new JL-2 SLBM, which has a strike range of over 7,200 km."
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Pete

May 10, 2012

Controversy Over SLBMs for India's Arihant Submarine (ATV)


Arihant and its proposed K-15 (Sagarika) and the Agni IIISL missiles. (click to enlarge) Diagram  drawn from a very comprehensive Arihant article at http://weapons.technology.youngester.com/2009/08/ins-arihant-in-news-and-photos.html
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My previous post has drawn an interesting raft (or submersible) of queries and comments. They'll take a while to answer or at least to generate more questions. I'll respond in red in the next 2-3 days:

"A" said, Tuesday, February 01, 2011 1:01:00 AM

"Hi Pete, i think it is quite premature to assume that k-15 will be the mainstay SLBM fielded by indian submarines for next 20 years because already the indian media has reported the existence and launch of K-4 SLBM early last year.This SLBM is reported to have a range of 3500 kms and another missile of range 5000 kms+ is also under development.Another test of this missile is planned early this yaer.These are believed to be operationalised by 2017-2020."

Hi "A"

You're right that its premature to be certain that the K-15 (aka Sagarika and B-05) will be India's standard SLBM for 2 decades. Alternate developments are even less probable. The K-15 has been tested in a semi-submersible environment (from a pontoon) and has had a number of land launches where range and accuracy were tested.

Apparently the K-4 had a limited pontoon "cold" launch test after all (allegedly tested in January 2010 according to the Government sources telling India Today associate editor Sandeep Unnithan. The K-4 apparently "breached the surface" meaning its rocket motors (if installed) were not tested, no flight occured, hence no range claims could be tested see - http://livefist.blogspot.com/2010/11/mag-report-indias-secret-k-missile.html  Significantly the K-4 is reported to be 10 metres long/tall (oddly the same length/height as the K-15) and 1.3 metres diametre while Agni III is reported to be 17 metres long/tall and 2 metres in diameter. These are two measurable indicators of how fundamentally different the K-4 and Agni III apparently are. http://gentleseas.blogspot.com/2008/01/indian-ki15-agni-3-missiles-in-atv.html of January 2008 on the K-15 launch. Meanwhile the variously labelled Agni III SL/K-X/K-4 has only been flight tested from land. The gulf between testing and developing a land based missile and an SLBM is very wide. Its like saying a successful test of a Minuteman IV indicates progress with a Trident II. The US never made the connection. Dimensions and the technical requirements of a submerged "cold" launch mean there is a great difference between land missiles and SLBMs.

It is also notable that the Arihant will only carry 4 Agni III SLs according to information in August 2008 when Arihant was launched - see http://gentleseas.blogspot.com/2009/08/arihant-indias-first-homebuilt-nuclear.html. Even then the armament expectations for Arihant were murky  - it was first to be armed with BrahMos, then K-15, then Agni III SLs.

Four Agni IIIs does not constitute an adequate war load compared to India's competitors, which vary from 12 (likely MIRVed) SLBMs on Chinese SSBNs, 16 for UK and France and 24 on US subs. This is also in the absence of any evidence that India has developed a MIRV (multiple warheads on each missile) capability. China has a decent chance of shooting down 4 Agni III warheads but not 240 (24 x 10 MIRVed) warheads from one US SSBN. This makes Arihant an unviable SSBN.

This also means India will need to develop a whole new class of nuclear submarine to fill the SSBN niche. New submarine classes often take 2 decades to develop. Although India could perhaps retrofit a 16 missile "plug" onto an Arihant style base.

In addition I think there is insufficient evidence, thus far, that Arihant's reactor is even operating. The Indian PMs speech in August 2008 indicated considerable Indian reliance on Russia for assistance in building Arihant (particularly the reactor http://gentleseas.blogspot.com/2009/08/arihant-indias-first-homebuilt-nuclear.html ). If India is also placing some reliance on Russia for developing and launching the theoretical Agni III SL from a submerged submarine India may have the kind of setbacks Russia is experiencing with the RSM-56 Bulava missile http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSM-56_Bulava#Troubles.  5 test failures out of 11.

Russia may prove of limited assistance and reliability (remembering ongoing Gorshkov delay and delays with Nerpa). Assuming India will not build a completely homegrown SLBM when mature technology is out there some intended or unintended (espionage) gathering from the US or UK may be in order. Alternatively with France's "record" (highly suspected testing and joint development of Israel's nuclear deterrent) help from France may be more explicit - especially if rolled in with the sale of 6 more Scorpenes (a current tender?) to India.

Naturally much of the above is speculation, but it may throw up likelihoods :) All this is not to disparage India - noting that Australia's homebuilt experience consists of 6 below average Collins SSKs.

Regards

Pete

--------------------------

PointSingularity86 said on February 01, 2011 4:26:00 AM
...
"Information sharing may well occur amongst those countries that see China as a potential threat"

Did u basically mean all countries? :P No not all countries. Information sharing might quietly occur between those countries that trust each other and/or they see the others' information on (say) Chinese SSN movements, as valuable. Sharing countries might also have a sound relationship with India. For example Russia would be an information sharing ally with India (but not directly with ther US) because Russia sees China as a threat and Russia has the facilities to track Chinese SSN's and then pass on the interlligence to India :P. 
In contrast North Korea (NK) is distrusted by all and is unlikely to have adequate tracking intelligence facilities about Chinese SSNs. NK would see China as an ally sometimes but also a potential threat. NK would be out of the intel sharing loop.   :P

One observation, the Nicobar islands (well I almost forget they're ours ;) are close to Malacca straits. Actually, I suppose there's no way a ship can pass Malacca strait and bypass Nicobar islands! If India monitors Great Nicobar seas and perhaps Andaman Island seas as well. , it will detect everything that moves thru Malacca!
So nuke subs can watch the open Indian Ocean south of Malacca. The Nicobar's certainly occur to the the terrestrial (island) eye view. There may also be sound reasons why particular undersea geographical formations or water conditions might also be concentrated on by India's undersea sensor arrays. The arrays may not need to connect with closest landfalls/islands - power/optical fibre signals might connedct directly with the Naval Base at Vishakhapatnam. Also the fairly fixed paths of India's spy satellites may influence surveillance choices. Further, the patrol areas asigned to allies would affect India's own surveillance efforts. 

.... Or maybe say hello to Oz and beg for Uranium more frequently (u knw, Mr. Krishna can't do daily begging down under)
or maybe steal some from Oz without saying hello... lol
God this uranium begging business has gone a bit too far! :P Amen to that PS86! The uranium embargo is a needless irritant to good Australian relations with India! :P

btw, I was thinking, a nuke sub's constrained only by supplies onboard (food more precisely) . In wartime (the last patrol...) food availability might be the only limitation. However in peace - for the US anyway, a voyage might be just 4-5 months (less than food stocks) because the Blue or Gold crews need to return due to: a degree of physical and mental exhaustion and sleep debt (less sleep than desirable), the need to see loved ones, need to perform maintenance or repairs for about a month on the SSN or SSBN (eg software and hardware updates might be needed for the computerised combat systems). Some nuclear missiles and torpedoes might need to be reconditioned or swapped due to chemical changes always going on in the nuclear warheads. Crews need to train and relax. Much training cannot be done on an operational sub, simulators or training subs might be used - see this http://www.pigboats.com/bg/bluegold.html for more info. P

. do u hav any idea why don't they just do some underwater fishing to solve that? ;)"

Since the mid nineteenth century foraging (living off the land or even sea) by the military has become quite rare due to the availability of compact rations, particularly in tins. Logistic systems can now cope. Modern militaary also use a division of labour to maximise the effctiveness of the minority (about 10%) on the front line. :P

Subs are about the least likely unit to forage due to the need to remain submerged - need to remain stealthy, and the stringent manpower availability. Fishing is also labor  time intensive and only preduces protein. Would take about half the crew to suspend all activity to catch, scale, clean and can the fish...P

----------------------------------

Invalid said February 01, 2011 6:40:00 PM
...
Hi Pete

Thanks for the clarification. Unless the sensors density is too high, they may not be able to distinctly identify submarines from the container traffic. I think computer software and hardware would filter out commercial ship sounds The Hunt for the Red October is reputedly realistic in parts - such as the sonarman equipment and capabilities.

Does China / India have any ally around the Malacca Straits ? None of them have to an extent we can say that India had Singapore as an ally. Due to effective diplomacy of India, Singapore is not seeing India as an enemy and not as an ally too. Intelligence alliances can occur between strategic and economic competitors. Much happens quietly with the public unaware. I mention Singapore due to intuition that it and India (and Israel for that matter) all are threated be actual or pential Muslim threats, all have able, high tech submarine services to track "enemy" submarines and ships. Singapore also participated in MALABAR 2007 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MALABAR_Naval_Exercise This exercise was hosted by India and it was a thinly disguised containment of China activity. :P

I always wonder why can't submarines propeller blade change its shapes slightly some might change or the cylinder shroud may change position (with lose in efficiency ofcourse) so that its broadband noise & cavitation noise signature can vary. The propellers are frequently kept from public view because photography may reveal alot including likely acoustic characteristics (including excess cavitation noise likelihood). Even the way propellers are made "milled" is often secret. :P

Invalid said Hi PointSingularity86,

You don't have to go near Nicobar Islands after you exit from Malacca strait. Ships can hug coastlines of Malaysia, Thailand & Burma. After they reach Burma, they can move into Bay of Bengal and then to Indian Ocean."

May 8, 2012

Nerpa Nuclear Submarine Almost, Nearly, in Indian hands

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Strategypage December 30, 2009, has written a well rounded report on India's new Nerpa/Chakra (Akula II) submarine. "Chakra" can be translated as "spinning wheel like weapon" or "force centre" :
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"Cursed Boat Heading For India - December 30, 2009: The Russian Akula II SSN (nuclear attack submarine) Nerpa, built for India, has finally completed its sea trials and was accepted into Russian service. But this will be temporary, as India is supposed to take possession in five months.
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The Indian crew for the sub has been ready for over a year now, Most of the delay arose 13 months ago, when, while undergoing sea trials, there was an accidental activation of the fire extinguisher system. This killed twenty sailors and civilians, and injured more than twenty. There were 208 people aboard the sub at the time, most of them navy and shipyard personnel there to closely monitor all aspects of the sub as it made its first dives and other maneuvers. The source of the fatal accident was poor design and construction of the safety systems on the sub. This accident led to sailors and shipyard technicians being fearful of going to sea on the boat. So the sea trials were delayed, even after repairs were made.
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Once in Indian service, the Nerpa will be called the INS Chakra (the same name used by the Charlie class Russian sub India leased from 1988-91). The post-accident modifications on the Nerpa cost $65 million. The lease arrangement has India paying $178,000 a day, for ten years, for use of the sub.

-

The 7,000 ton Akula IIs requires a crew of 51 highly trained sailors. It was Indian money that enabled Russia to complete construction on at least two Akulas. These boats were less than half finished at the end of the Cold War. This was another aftereffect of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Several major shipbuilding projects were basically put on hold (which still cost a lot of money), in the hopes that something would turn up. In this case, it was Indians with lots of cash. The Indian crew was, apparently, to take possession of the INS Chakra last Summer [July 2009], and take it back to India. But this won't happen until May.

Traditionally, when a new ship losses lots of people during sea trials, it is regarded as "cursed" and unlucky. Sailors can be a superstitious, especially when there are dead bodies involved. It's not known if India will have any problems with this."

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Comment

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Not only will Nerpa/Chakra be a new addition to the Indian Navy and training platform it will also provide an opportunity to transfer technology and operational lessons to India's indigenous Arihant submarine project. The Arihant was launched in 2009. As reported in this blog, four more submarines (perhaps two more SSNs and two larger SSBNs) in the Arihant Class (or having some commonlaity with the Arihant) may be launched by 2020.
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The extreme expense that India has gone to in financing completion of two Russian Akula IIs (Nerpa and another) followed by the high expected daily lease cost for a 10 year period reinforces the technology transfer expectation of this project.
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Pete

May 4, 2012

India's Chronic Submarine Upgrade Problems

1st Published January 19, 2009 

An Indian Navy Kilo class diesel electric submarine under repair at Mazagon Docks, Mumbai.
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Most countries bordering the Indian Ocean remain fairly silent about their submarine services, but, as indicated by the following India has openly described ongoing deficiencies:

India's IBNLive reported on January 4, 2009 http://ibnlive.in.com/news/navys-submarine-repair-costs-india-losses/82616-3.html :

"New Delhi: Over-emphasis on indigenous work is hurting India's readiness for war.
As India's vital submarine arm struggles with dangerously low numbers, a top-end submarine has been taken out of the fleet for a repair programme.

The shocking part is that the repair schedule will last 10 years. Such upgrades have previously been done overseas in two years. One could compare this to a submarine being laid comatose, at least in the case of the INS Sindhukirti, a frontline Kilo class attack submarine of the Indian Navy.


It's been in dry dock at Vizag for a refit programme for close to five years now. It seems that Hindustan Shipyards, the government-owned contractor with little experience in submarine upgrades, will take at least another five years before the submarine can be put to water again.

Unavailable to the submarine-starved Navy for 10 of the 30 years of its useful life, the Sindhukirti is as good as a write off.

"How viable is a surgery which requires a healthy patient to be in a hospital bed for one-third of his life? That is the approximate analogy for the mid-life upgrade for this submarine INS Sindhukirti, the Dry Dock Queen. Four submarines are stuck in such protracted upgrades. Not surprisingly, just nobody is accountable," said our defence correspondent.

Russia took just two years each to upgrade six similar Kilo class submarines for the Indian Navy.
The government insists that it is now building national capability with inhouse upgrades.

"That kind of expertise did not exist in India before and this is for the first time that we are trying it out here. Instead of sending them to Russia all the way, this one is being offloaded to Hindustan Shipyards. There are some problems in their procurement procedures. It takes a little longer than is expected," said Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Suresh Mehta.

What this trade-off on time does to India's military readiness is anybody's guess. It took a recent [ Comptroller and Auditor General of India] CAG report to blow the lid of the Indian Navy's worst kept secret: that the vital submarine arm faces a crisis of numbers.

The shocking revelations of the report were:

- Only seven of India's 16 submarines are available for combat at any time.
- 10 of these 16 ageing submarines will be due for phase-out by 2012.
- To maintain current numbers, one submarine needs to be inducted every two years but there's been no addition since 2001.
- India's only submarine-making facility in Mumbai was kept idle for 12 years.
- The gaping hole in India's naval capability is showing."
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Pete

May 2, 2012

Nerpa Accident Sets Back Indian Submarine Program



Monday, November 10, 2008

 

Possible location of the accident in the Nerpa's bow.
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Late Breaking News - It was reported Nov 21, 2008 that the Nerpa would now not be leased to India but would join the Russian Navy. The tragic accident aboard the Russian Akula II submarine Nerpa is a further problem in weapon acquisition relations between India and Russia.
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The Nerpa's construction was partly financed by India in preperation for a long lease to India (10 years) together with a Russian training program on how to operate and maintain Akulas.
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It is likely that the 3 nuclear subs under construction in India (Advanced Technology Vessels (ATVs)) are a development of the Akula - therefore India needs the Nerpa/Chakra as a training vessel. The accident is sure to delay availabilty of the Nerpa/Chakra.
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India has found Russia to be a difficult supplier in the area of tanks, jet fighters, over an aircraft carrier and submarines (including the conventional Kilo subs and now with the Nerpa/Chakra) . This is not to say that other suppliers (like the US) aren't unreliable at times.
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Apparently no Indian sailors were killed or injured - nothing about Indian technicians/observers yet.
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Nerpa/Chakra was covered in my post Indian Submarines Chakra & the ATVs Make Progress of August 27, 2008.
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The Times of India, November 9, 2008 reports:
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NEW DELHI: India's already-delayed project to lease a nuclear-powered submarine for a 10-year period from Russia, under a secret deal signed in January 2004 for an initial $650 million, seems to have taken a further hit.
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The new Russian Akula-II class attack submarine called ‘K-152 Nerpa', which met with an accident during sea trials in the Sea of Japan off Vladivostok on Saturday, killing at least 20 people and injuring another 21, is apparently the same vessel which was to be transferred to India in July-August 2009, sources said. "But no official confirmation from Russia has reached here till now.


Russian video report (in English) - with footage of Akulas
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Yes, Indian sailors have been training in Russia, in batches, for nuclear submarine operations but none of them were on board this one," said a source.
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While reports held that Nerpa's nuclear reactor was not damaged and there was no radiation leakage during the accident, which occurred due to "unsanctioned activation" of fire-fighting systems, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered a thorough investigation into the incident.
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The Russian sailors and workers from Komsomolsk-on-Amur shipyard who died were apparently in the sections near the submarine's bow, where the fire-extinguishing systems malfunctioned, and were suffocated by fumes from Freon and other coolants. The injured, with different degrees of poisoning, were evacuated to Russian Pacific Fleet hospital at Vladivostok for treatment, even as the 8,140-tonne Nerpa with 165 other personnel later limped its way back to its operating base in the Primorye region.
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...The sea trials of Nerpa, christened INS Chakra by India, had been launched only last month. Though its construction at Amur Shipyard had begun way back in 1991, it was halted midway after Russia was hit by a financial crisis. It was only after India pumped in money that Nerpa's construction had resumed, with the understanding that India would get the submarine on a 10-year lease.
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Interestingly, in January 2004, India had also signed the $1.5billion package deal with Russia for refit of decommissioned aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and 16 MiG-29K fighters. But with the package deal now being renegotiated, India might well have to pay another $2billion to get Gorshkov by 2012, with some indications that a part of huge cost escalation could be linked to Russia demanding more for Nerpa over the initial $650million.
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The delivery schedule of the nuclear-powered submarine [Nerpa] from Russia has already been revised a couple of times due to technical hitches. Now, after the accident, it looks that even the commissioning date set for August 15 next year might not be possible."

May 1, 2012

Indian Submarines Chakra & the ATVs Make Progress

As at Aug 27, 2008


2 Russian Akula IIs - similar (perhaps) to the final form of INS Chakra


Likely Plan of India's Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) which may be launched next year. This ".jpg" image originated here.
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On August 21, 2008, a confusing article from India Today stated (paragraphs reorganised to attempt to provide clarity):
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INS Chakra - Modified Akula II
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"India's strategic establishment has begun the countdown to two important milestones. In late June, a modified Akula-II class nuclear-powered attack submarine, the Chakra, began harbour acceptance trials at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur shipyard [inland about 1,000 kms northeast of Vladivostok] in the Russian far east.
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The Chakra is the Russian submarine, formerly [commissioned Nerpa in December 2000], which in the next few months will to sail into the Pacific Ocean off Vladivostok for full-fledged sea trials with a Russian crew.
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If the trials are successfully concluded, say officials, the Chakra will be commissioned at Vladivostok with an Indian crew who will sail it to India by August 15, 2009.
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Due to its design commonality with ATV, the Chakra is being leased primarily to train crews to man ATVs. With its cruise missiles and torpedoes, it will also be used for sea-denial missions [maybe] in the Indian Ocean.
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The under construction 12,000-tonne Chakra was to be completed and leased to India for 10 years under a $650-million deal signed in 2004. It was to be inducted into the navy on August 15 this year, but was delayed by a year, following technical snags."Project India", as the classified lease programme is called, seems to be back on track after being seemingly caught in last year's freeze in Indo-Russian defence ties over escalating costs of the aircraft carrier Vikramaditya's [ex-Gorshkov] refit.
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Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) - Modified Akula I
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On January 26, 2009, the sluice gates of an enclosed dry-dock in Visakhapatnam [naval base on India's east coast] are to be opened and the world will take its first look at India's first nuclear-powered submarine, the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV), as it enters the waters. [complete fitout, testing, crew training may take 4 or 5 years before the first ATV is operational].
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...The aim is to field three [ATV] submarines equipped with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles-the so-called third leg of the nuclear triad comprising air, land and sea-launched weapons-on "deterrent patrols" (to deter a potential adversary from launching a nuclear first strike) by 2015.
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India's ATV is based on the Russian Akula I class [first launched 1986] submarine, but is powered by a single indigenously-built nuclear reactor and equipped with 12 K-15 ballistic missiles or 16 of the Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.
-Background
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naval-technology.com provides the most comprehensive description of the Akula I's and II's that I've seen:
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Data for Akula II:
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Crew 73
Surfaced Displacement 8,140t
Displacement, Submerged 12,770t
Overall Height 11.3m
Hull Cross Section 13.6m x 9.68m
Diving Depth 600m
Run Speed Surfaced 10kt

Speed Submerged 35kt
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Full Specifications
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The Russian Navy has 14 Bars Class project 971 submarines known in the West as the Akula Class nuclear-powered missile attack submarines (SSN). A unknown number of Russian Akula class submarines are deployed in the Pacific and (perhaps) Indian Ocean region.
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The submarines were built by the Amur Shipbuilding Plant Joint Stock Company at Komsomolsk-on-Amur [far eastern Siberia] and at the Severodvinsk shipbuilding yard [near Archangel in nothwestern Russia].

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Seven Akula I submarines were commissioned between 1986 and 1992, and three Improved Akula between 1992 and 1995.
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Three Akula II submarines, with hull length extended by 4m and advanced machinery-quietening technology, have been built.

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[Hence main differences between Akula Is and IIs may be the hull extension and some new equipment.]
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The first Akula II named Viper, was commissioned in 1995, the second, Nerpa, in December 2000 and the third, Gepard, in August 2001. The Akula II are 110m long and displace up to 12,770t.

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DESIGN

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The submarine has a double-hulled configuration with a distinctive high aft fin. The hull has seven compartments and the stand-off distance between the outer and inner hulls is considerable, reducing the possible inner hull damage [due to pressure surges and kinetic punctures?]. The very low acoustic signature has been achieved by incremental design improvements to minimise noise generation and transmission – for example, the installation of active noise cancellation techniques [and the double hull].

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The retractable masts viewed from bow to stern are the periscopes, radar antennae, radio and satellite communications and navigation masts.

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MISSILES
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The Indian fitout is likely to be 16 Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles first then eventually (say 2015?) replaced or augmented by 12 K-15 ballistic missiles.
The dimensions of the BrahMos missile (8.3 m x 0.6 m) suggest it could[?] be cold launched by torpedo tubes. This would allow eventual simultanous installation of K-15 ballistic missiles and avoid the need to convert vertical launch tubes from BrahMos use to K-15 use.
India test fired a K-15 from a pontoon on February 26, 2008, two-stage, solid fuel, range 700 kms, length 11 metres, 0.7m wide [?]
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Work on the K-15 started around a decade ago under a highly classified programme earlier called
Sagarika (Oceanic). Development ran parallel to the Indian navy's 25 year programme to build the ATV.
A news report estimated the future K-15 "payload" as 500kg. - Comment received: with a 500kg warhead, the range of the Sagarika will be 1800 km. India finds it convenient to understate the range of its missiles though. Having weaponry that can reach Europe causes diplomatic friction.
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Regarding yield, the 250 kg warhead (in a 500kg RV for a K-15 ) may be 200-300kT - this is based on better known calculations for the Agni series warheads. The warheads developed for the Prithvi are smaller (20kT) and lighter (<200kg>20kT. For larger yield (200-300kT) they may use thermonuclear designs. It doesn't appear that India has large fission or
Sloika/Joe 4 type designs. These tend to be heavy and difficult to deliver.
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TORPEDOES
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The submarine has eight torpedo launch tubes, four 650mm and four 533mm tubes. The Improved Akula and Akula II have ten, with six 533mm tubes. The four 650mm tubes can be fitted with liners to provide additional 533mm weapon launch capacity. The torpedo tubes can be used to launch mines instead of torpedoes. The Akula can launch a range of anti-submarine and anti-surface vessel torpedoes.
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SENSORS
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The Akula's surface search radar is the Snoop Pair or the Snoop Half. The surface search radar antennae are installed on the same mast as the Rim Hat radar intercept receiver.
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The submarine is fitted with the MGK 540 sonar system which provides automatic target detection in broad and narrow-band modes by active sonar. It gives the range, relative bearing and range rate.

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The sonar system can also be used in a passive, listening mode for detection of hostile sonars. The sonar signal processor can detect and automatically classify targets as well as reject spurious acoustic noise sources and compensate for variable acoustic conditions.
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PROPULSION
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[Relevant to Chakra ] The main machinery consists of a VM-5 pressure water reactor rated at 190MW with a GT3A turbine developing 35MW. Two auxiliary diesels rated at 750hp provide emergency power. The propulsion system drives a seven-bladed fixed-pitch propeller.
[The single reactor for the ATV was reported in 2004 to be only 100MWt. Unless it has been uprated (or 2 reactors are now to be used) the ATV may be much smaller than an Akula or much slower.]
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The propulsion system provides a maximum submerged speed of 33kt and a surface speed of 10kt. A reserve propeller system, powered by two motors rated at 370kW, provides a speed of 3kt to 4kt. The submarine is rated for a diving depth to 600m.
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Comments
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The January 2009 viewing of an ATV hull may be strongly influenced by the need for good public relations - showing where the Rs Billions spent on a delayed program have gone. Until the ATV hull can be viewed in its entirety press releases about the ATV cannot be fully accepted. Will it basically be an Akula or a heavily modified boat - perhaps smaller?
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Complete fitout, testing and crew training may take 4 or 5 years before the first ATV is fully operational and ready to overawe Pakistan or counter China's SSBNs.
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With the eventual introduction of viable Indian nuclear powered small SSBNs (on top of current Russian and Chinese SSN's and SSBN's) Australia will need to deeply consider whether a conventionally powered Collins class replacement will cut it in a nuclear submarine region.
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We are not labelling Russia, China or India as friends or enemies. Military planning and acquisitions rely more on comparitive capabilities and needs.
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If we calculate that America will be by our side for only 25 years then we should go nuclear (propulsion and weapons). If the Australia-US alliance estimate is optimistic - up to 40 years we don't need to think about nuclear for 20 years - maybe, hopefully.
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