INS Chakra
The INS Chakra is being repaired in Visakhapatnam.Creative commons

The Indian Navy is all set to get another nuclear attack submarine as the Narendra Modi government is ready to sign a $3 billion deal with Russia later this week. The submarine will be manufactured and loaded with indigenous communications systems and sensors.

According to Economic Times, the Akula-class submarine will be the biggest defence deal signed with Russia ever since the $5.5 billion contract for the S-400 air defence system last year. The deal is expected to be signed on March 7 and the submarine is scheduled to be ready by 2025. 

An extensive manufacturing programme will take place on mothballed hulls at a Russian shipyard. The Chakra III submarine is expected to be in service for at least 10 years and will replace Chakra II, which was also obtained under similar conditions in 2012.

The lease period of Chakra II is scheduled to expire in 2022 but given the time consumption in manufacturing and testing of Chakra III submarine, it could be extended for a five-year period.

INS Chakra
The INS Chakra submarine.Creative Commons

The nuclear attack submarine or SSN is a nuclear-powered submarine and carries conventional weapons. Chakra-III will give India an edge over its rivals in the Indian Ocean region (IOR). One of the major strengths of these vessels is that they can remain underwater for months, which makes almost impossible for the enemies to detect.

The IOR has become on the major trade routes where the Indian Navy is increasingly seen as a net security provider. India's maritime security strategy plans to provide a maritime environment that is free from all forms of traditional and non-traditional threats to our national development. Notably, China is encircling India under its "strings of pearls" strategy.

In August 2018, China had established its first overseas base in Djibouti—the Horn of Africa. On the other hand, apart from Russia, India has signed military logistics pacts with the US and France to ensure a supply of logistics in the waters.

Talks to acquire Chakra III on lease have been on cards since 2013 but it was given a significant boost in 2015 when both the parties started off the initiated technical and price discussions. Interestingly, Chakra III will be the third Russian nuclear submarine to be used by the Indian Navy since 1988 when INS Chakra was taken on lease for a period of three years.