Russia denies rumours of leasing two nuclear submarines to India

Russia's Federal Agency on Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS) denied the rumors published by Indian newspapers that two nuclear submarines of  project 971 Shchuka-B (NATO’s reporting name Shark) would be leased to India. However, it is noteworthy that there have been too many technical details in the published rumors which make it possible to assume that “there is no smoke without fire”, as they say in Russia. In particular, Indian sources claim that India and Russia have already signed the leasing agreement on the delivery of the two subs, having indicated even the sum of the contract - $ 350 million ($35 million for one submarine annually). Allegedly the contract was signed on January, 26th, 2007 during the visit of the President of the Russian Federation V.Putin to New Delhi.

Of course, officials confirm such deals only after they really take place. In spite of the official denial there are few facts that are too obvious to deny. First of all the work on the subs the construction of which had been suspended many years ago and they were “conserved” till better days has been resumed. Secondly it is out of the question to assume that these relatively old submarines could be built for the Russian Navy, which badly awaits new models. And finally India has the precedent of using leased Russian nuclear sub (project 670-A K-43 renamed into Chakra, 1988-1991). So logically it is very easy to assume that the breakthrough in the Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation includes also this point. There are enough representatives of the industry and politicians in Russia who would favor such a deal with India.

With no official confirmation this matter remains as a test for analytical abilities of different observers. At the moment it looks that there are more “for” points than “against”. It is, probably, more easy to predict high chances of the Russian diesel subs (Amur-1650) in the Indian market. In 2005 India bough license manufacturing of 6 French Scorpen subs. This year New Delhi is going to announce the tender on delivering six more subs of the same class. Keeping in mind the policy of India to diversify the suppliers of arms it is quite predictable that Amurs, which are at least as good as Scorpens, are number one choice.

Yuri Seleznyov

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