According to the Russian and Indian media, the Indian Navy plans to buy or lease a pair of Improved Akula I (Project 971 Shchuka-B)-class submarines. Several hulls have lain incomplete in Russian yards since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and two are to be completed in 2004 or 2005 for five-year lease to India. Two hulls were laid down at Komsomolsk-on-Amur in 1986 and 1987. One of them, the Nerpa, was 82% complete by mid-1998. Both Komsomolsk hulls were offered to India in March 1999. According to one Russian report, however, the second Indian submarine will be the Akula II-class Kuguar, the latest of the class, laid down at Severodvinsk in 1993. Russia is to train four Indian crews for the two submarines. A total price of $5 billion has been reported, presumably including weapons and training. It is not clear from Russian and Indian reports whether the leases provide for later sale. Funds from the deal would finance completion of the next-generation Severodvinsk (Project 885), laid down in December 1993 but little advanced since then.
World Naval Developments: India Begins Naval Upgrade
By Norman Friedman