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India Inducts Nuclear-Powered Submarine into Navy

Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony speaking at the induction ceremony of the INS Chakra II nuclear-powered submarine at the naval shipyard in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, April 4, 2012.

India has introduced a nuclear-powered submarine into its navy, becoming the sixth country in the world to operate such a warship.The submarine has been leased from Russia.

Defense Minister A.K. Antony formally commissioned the 8,140-ton nuclear submarine into the navy at a ceremony Wednesday in the eastern port of Vishakhapatnam. He says the ship will bolster the security and sovereignty of the country.

India has leased the Akula II class submarine from Russia for 10 years for about $ 1 billion. The other countries which have nuclear-powered submarines are the United States, China, Britain, France and Russia.

Indian navy personnel have been trained in Russia to operate the submarine, which can stay underwater for about three months.

The nuclear submarine will boost the navy’s capability to defend India’s interests in the Indian Ocean.

Although India views both Pakistan and China as potential threats, in recent years many defense analysts have begun calling Beijing the principal adversary.

In particular, New Delhi is wary of any Chinese inroads into the Indian Ocean, which India sees as its strategic backyard.

Security analyst at the Center for Policy Research Bharat Karnad says the recently commissioned Akula II class submarine will help counter Chinese maritime expansion close to India.

“Should the Chinese navy strengthen its numbers in this part of the world and certainly in the Indian Ocean basin, then Akula will be the kind of deep-water hunter submarine that will deter any outre [out of common course] kind of activity by the Chinese,” he stated.

China has already funded construction of ports in Burma, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan and some defense analysts feel these could be used to by the Chinese navy in the event of a regional conflict.

India is expected to get a second nuclear-powered submarine later this year, when trials are completed on an indigenously developed warship.

Defense analysts say India’s drive to modernize its military has focused heavily on the navy and the air force, while the modernization of the army has lagged far behind. The Indian army chief recently said obsolete defense equipment has weakened the country’s defense capabilities.

Although India is spending billions of dollars to acquire new weapons, allegations of corruption in defense procurement have slowed the process, with officials often hesitant to make decisions.