November 8, 2017

US Report that India is Revealing Russian SSN Secrets to US Navy

One can tell this Akula II is INS Chakra from the India naval ensign flying above the fin/sail and probably (?) the badge on the front of the fin/sail.

The US government may have provided information that India is breaking a nuclear submarine (SSN) technology agreement with Russia. If so, this may be a US attempt to drive a wedge between India and Russia. More specifically it may reduce the chances India may lease a second Russian SSN and reduce the chances of Russian assistance to India on future indigenous Indian SSNs, SSBNs and their SLBMs.

On November 7, 2017 US website Strategypage reported Russian suspicions that India is violating the INS Chakra (Akula II ex-Nerpa SSN) lease agreement. Russian authorities suspect India is revealing some Chakra nuclear submarine technology details to US naval personnel. Russia has attempted to prevent such "snooping" by stipulating that a Russian naval officer be aboard INS Chakra at all times.

Strategypage goes on to report:

“Russia is also believed to suspect that a growing number of Indian naval officers have become so dissatisfied with Russian ships and poor Russian workmanship and repairs that they might pass details of [INS Chakra] the Akula II India already has to U.S. Navy officers they work with.”


My searches so far haven't unearthed Indian or other US information to support Strategypage's  (India violating Chakra lease agreement) report. Some details of Strategypage's report might have been inserted by the US Government as a small part of a campaign to cause political, strategic and economic friction between India and Russia.


The US is increasingly courting India, in part to separate India from Russia (India's largest supplier of arms). The US also wants to sell India several civilian Westinghouse nuclear power reactors to supply electricity. Russian company Rosatom (see same article) is a nuclear power reactor competitor to Westinghouse.

In August 2017 a continuing US/Boeing desire to sell F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to India was reported. Such US aircraft may eventually replace many of the Russian MiGs and Sukhois fighter/attack aircraft that India has been buying for decades.

India financed the completion of a Russian Akula II SSN Nerpa in the 2000s. Nerpa became Chakra on lease to India in 2012 (see right sidebar).

For several years India has expressed interest in financing the completion of a second Akula II (Project 971). Russia might then lease this second Akula II concurrently with INS Chakra or it may be delivered to India once Chakra's 10 year lease expires in 2022 (or a few years later).

At one stage India even hoped to lease one of Russia's late model Yasen SSNs. Russia quietly rejected this as Russia has too few Yasen SSNs to spare and Yasen technology is considered too sensitive to share with "lease" customers.


Continuing Russian supply of weapons to India would be opposed by many in the US Government. But others would look forward to access to the latest Russian weapons' technological details once Russia sells or leases these weapons to India.



Anonymous said...

Disinformation? I doubt there will be any sale of F/A-18. There is a viable alternative for a carrier borne fighter which India ALREADY selected and purchased. It is called Rafale.

Anonymous said...

The Akula in Indian hands comes with key equipment removed or degraded anyway plus India is unlikely to be this stupid in burning bridges so openly with Russia. This looks like a transparently childish attempt to put a gap between India and Russia.

Equipment quality, workmanship aside,the simple fact remains that no other nation has helped India as much as Russia with know-how or rather 'show-how'. shoddy workmanship can be self rectified.. 'show-how' cannot be replaced. The partial K-4 missile launch know how and the VM-5 reactor know how share alone are invaluable.

This is the danger I have always felt wrt weapons purchase from the US. They come with too many strings attached and there is never a 'show-how' ever. Understandable as the US wants to protect tech., India could, however do without such 'disinformation' campaigns.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

I found interesting article [1] on change of security relation between India and Russia, and introduce its abstract.

[1] (“Gradual change of security relation between India and Russia” by Ken Nagao, 2014/10/29)

Indian weapons system was already deeply dependent on USSR. The collapsion of USSR in 1991 ceased supply of repair parts to India, but India had not enough ability to product repair parts and experianced serious trouble. As a result, India adopted new weapon strategy consisted of development of indigenous weapon industry and purchasing western weapon with tecnology transfer.

India is promoting its strategy at a slow pace considering relation with Russia, and she bought front armaments such fighters from Russia and rear armaments such fighters from USA. But, such consideration is gradually reducing with increase in weapon import from USA. Russia is starting to be alert. Recently Russia refused technology transfer of tanks to India.


Peter Coates said...

Subsequently, on November 9, 2017, Defense World added further details

“Russia Miffed With India For Letting US Navy Officials Onboard 'Chakra' Submarine”
“Russia has accused India of committing an “unfriendly act” by granting the US officials access to the Russian nuclear submarine of Project 971I, operated by the Indian Navy since 2011.

According to Russian newpaper Kommersant, the appearance of technical specialists of the US Navy on board Chakra nuclear submarine has threatened to seriously complicate “negotiations both on the lease of the second nuclear submarine”, in addition to other projects in the field of military-technical cooperation between the two countries.

Kommersant’s source working in the military technical cooperation system, called the fact that the US Navy appeared on a Russian submarine located on the base near Vishakhapatnam, outrageous. "There were well-trained technical specialists, though unlikely to get any information," the source said.

According to the report, specialized Russian structures are preparing countermeasures against their Indian partners. "Very difficult conversations are on the horizon, we have a lot of questions," a source said.

The report noted that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who intends to come to India in December with one of the largest deals on Russian arms, will have to discuss the problems accumulated due to this. In addition, he must negotiate the creation of a fifth-generation fighter under an agreement which was signed back in 2007.
Currently, the Indian Navy operates the “Chakra” submarine, built in Russia based on the 971 “Shchuka-B” project. The agreement to lease the ship was signed in 2004, and is worth about $980 million (with the initial price being set at $650 million).”

Peter Coates said...

Thanks Anonymous [at 10/11/17 9:55 AM]

Re "Recently Russia refused technology transfer of tanks to India."

I wonder if the Russian tank in question is the T-14 Armata

Russia seems willing to export whole Armatas to India but Russia may not wish to transfer sufficient Armata technology to allow India to build Armatas in competition with the Russian Armata builder Uralvagonzavod.

Also a Russian fear may be if Armatas are built by India this may expose Armata technical vulnerabilities to US (and broader Western) anti-tank experts.



Peter Coates said...

An Anonymous [I can give his/her one word nickname if he/she wants] on November 10, 2017 provided 2 posts that he/she indicated needed some correction. The following cleans up the correction.

"The article on is based on an article by a guy who is good most of the times but sometimes he just losses it.

Nothing of that sort is happening, it is simply a media hit job and to what end i don't know.

No USN personnel were allowed in Visakhapatnam Base [Indian Fleet Base East], forget about access to nuclear subs either Russian or Indian.

[The] site is off limits to everybody , including Russians except under supervision

[INS] Chakra suffered an accident which allegedly damaged the sonar dome and Russian teams are on site under Indian supervision since the accident happened.

Indian domestic subs contain considerable Russian input, so it is highly insulting to insinuate that Indians are foolish enough to allow Americans to access Russian sub without weighing in the prospect of the Russians doing the same eg. sharing info with the Chinese.

Also what if the Russians reveal the frequencies of the Su-30MKI bars radar and to expect that the Indians are oblivious to such realities is plain stupid.

And add to that a Russian personnel is present 24 hrs on the sub be it while on patrol or while docked. is a well know BS site"

Peter Coates said...

Another twist to this affair.

This time suggesting French involvement - see

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

This scandal is being widely reported [1]. Even if it is fake news, India’s innocence should be properly proved, because lie sometimes becomes true. Russia stopped repair of INS Chakra [2].

(India's Russian submarine leak and Russia-US ties 'beyond repair)
[2] (Russian)
(Moscow postpones repair of submarine in the accident due to violation of New Delhi contract)


Peter Coates said...

A British viewing of hatches of INS Chakra sounds plausible.

Yet another twist to this affair. of 11 Nov 2017 indicates:

"British team, not the Americans, visited India’s Russian nuclear submarine"...

ThePrint has learned that while no team from the US visited the secretive nuclear attack submarine, that is on a 10-year lease, a foreign delegation did go on board a few months ago that may have generated the controversy.

Sources said that a [British] team from James Fischer Defence UK went on board to examine the compatibility of its submarine rescue systems with the nuclear boat.

India contracted two submarine rescue vessels from the British company in 2016 in a $273 million deal. The rescue vessels are to be delivered by 2018 and all Indian submarines are being inspected by the British team as part of the deal.

Sources said that an inspection by the British team took place a few weeks ago, during which it took certain measurements, and checked the hatches and other systems for integration. A similar exercise is believed to have been carried out on the INS Arihant as well.

As reported by ThePrint, the Chakra has been at Visakhapatnam for several weeks after it was crippled in an accident that damaged it’s sonar dome. Russian teams have assessed the extent of damage caused and will be carrying out repairs.

After reports in Russia about the alleged visit of a US team, no official statement was made by India. But sources confirmed the information was inaccurate. ThePrint also checked with US officials, who have also denied any such visit.

However, Russia has been unhappy about India’s growing ties with the US that it believes have exposed some of their weapons systems and ships.

The visit by a US Navy team, that is part of a joint working group on aircraft carrier technology, to the INS Vikramaditya was viewed seriously by Russia. While India has bought the ship, it has proprietary technologies that Russia does not want shared."

GhalibKabir said...

A British viewing is certainly possible as both DSRVs India purchased are UK made. However it is highly likely and near certain the Russkies were notified duly of the need to match the DSRV specs to the SSN esp. if Kashalot or Irbis are likely to be leased as a follow on.

Plus a Russian liaison officer is present nearly all the time. so it is insulting for strategypage/similar rag to suggest India cavalierly allowed US personnel on highly guarded nuclear asset premises.

anyway the likes of strategypage etc are little more than defense world gossip tabloids.

As I told you way back in 2015, it is possible India might go for a Barracuda-Akula mongrel mix domestic SSN. (with operational experiences drawn from the Akula and construction expertise from Arihant & Scorpene being used along with French help for stuff other than the reactor. all paid through the nose ofcourse.)

PS: Admiral Lanba's sojourn to Cherbourg is interesting...

Peter Coates said...

Hi GhalibKabir

Yes some in the Indian Navy may have enthusiasm for (last sentence sub-section ) :

- the overhaul and modernisation of the 30 year old Akula Kashalot (K-322) launched in 1987, and/or

- completion of the 23 year old Akula Irbis (no designation because it was laid down in 1994 and not launched)

But the sheer age of Akula hulls, which are based on 1970-80s design plans, calls into question the value for money and effectiveness of such old training submarines.

I think India needs much more recent SSN design help from probably Russia and less likely France.