SOURCE: TUSHKAR SHIRODKAR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG.
Australia just announced that it is looking at the latest British Astute-class variant or the U.S. Virginia-class vessel that will become on the basics of the which it plans to build a nuclear-powered boat instead of the conventional submarine Australia was designed in conjunction with Naval Group and Lockheed Martin. US local regulations prevent complete Transfer of Technology (ToT) when it comes to Nuclear technology but such rare exemptions might be made for the next Australian Nuclear Attack submarine program, leaving many wondering in India why the biggest military rival of the Chinese and a member of Quad in the region is not considered for same tech collaboration.
India on its own is working on the development of six nuclear attack submarines and is looking at its old friend Russia for experience and tech collaboration in the development of six nuclear submarines. India has working its way from development of nuclear ballistic missile submarine to the nuclear attack submarine next, but as one nuclear analyst suggested that it’s like moving from manufacturing of a sedan to a racing car, tech jump is big even if the technology more or less remains the same but nuclear attack submarine demands an improved performance that not only requires much finer advancement of submarines technology which might take decades to master for India.
The biggest challenge for the Indian nuclear attack submarine seems to be the nuclear reactor technology that needs to be almost twice the current capability that has been installed on the Arihant class of submarines due to which India is again looking at Russian Akula class submarine on a 10-year-old lease and recently also planned to go for second Akula class submarine, a big investment that it plans to make in acquiring two nuclear attack submarines in next 5-8 years to kick start its nuclear attack submarine program that will see the first ship entering the water in next 15 years.
India is looking to developing and commissioning a 190MW nuclear reactor on-site in the next 10 years and for this Navy is working with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) with technical consultation coming from the Russians. Russia has the best of nuclear attack class submarines but when it comes to the development of pressurized water nuclear reactors, the united states and UK are way ahead in this niche technology and India could have loved to have some western cooperation on this front.
France is the only other country that has offered its assistance in the development of India’s nuclear attack submarine but has limited Transfer of Technology (ToT) to non-conventional technology only if we order six more conventional submarines under Project-75I that excited no one at the Indian Naval Headquarter since it like someone offering a body of a racing car without its engines.