One of India’s two operating nuclear powered-submarines, the INS Chakra, is heading back to a Russian shipyard as New Delhi has decided to not to extend the lease beyond 10 years. The images that have since emerged on social media appear to reveal an Akula Class submarine being escorted by the Russian destroyer Admiral Tributs near Singapore. A Russian A330 Air Force tanker was also spotted during this mission.
The ten-year lease for the submarine is scheduled to expire in January 2022.
The Russian nuclear-powered attack submarine was taken out on lease for a period of 10 years at a cost of around $1 billion in 2012. The Indian Navy also operates a domestically-produced, nuclear-propelled submarine, the INS Arihant, which is equipped with ballistic missiles.
It’s not everyday that you get to see Akula-class SSN, INS Chakra, being buzzed by a RSAF A330 tanker. The submarine is escorted by DDG Admiral Tributs. pic.twitter.com/K5pRMuDFDC— Alert 5 (@alert5) June 4, 2021
A third Akula Class submarine, the Chakra-III, is expected to join the Indian Navy in 2025. The $3.3 billion deal, signed in 2019, includes refurbishment of the submarine with Indian communications and sensor systems, spare part support and training technical infrastructure for its operations. However, the new submarine will not be equipped with long-range nuclear missiles because of international treaties.
The Indian Navy has been facing a shortage of submarines as it decommissioned three subs in the last 15 years. According to an Indian Defence Ministry document, the INS Vela was decommissioned in June 2010 and the INS Vagli in December 2010, while the INS Sindhurakshak was decommissioned in June 2017.