SOURCE: TUSHKAR SHIRODKAR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG.
India’s Second-gen nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), was recently caught on satellite imaginaries as India is set to being work on a larger SSBN program under which it has plans to develop a submarine with a displacement of 13000 tons and is also aggressively pursuing the development of 6000-ton nuclear attack submarine but this submarines will not leave their dry docks if India is not able to get its hands on next-generation pressurized water reactor that will require key technology transfers and Russian assistance to become a reality.
India in past received Russian assistance in the development of an 83 MW pressurized light-water reactor which was based on the Russian OK-700A/VM-4SG model. India’s both SSN and SSBN programs will rely on a pressurized water reactor that will be a derivative or an improved variant based on a Russian-designed OK-650V reactor that has a rated power output of 190MW.
India used a leased Akula class submarine from Russia in past to get hands-on experience to operate a nuclear attack submarine and also to study its nuclear propulsion technology. India has plans to lease two more Akula class submarines from Russia in the next 5 years so that they can be used to fast-track the development of its nuclear propulsion technology.
The extent of the Russian assistance to the Indian nuclear submarine program is debatable but the Russian state’s cooperation in providing consultancy on the development of pressurized water reactor has been very well documented that the Russian Ambassador to India was the only foreign dignitary who was given access to Arihant launch ceremony that happened a few years back and where Russian role was openly acknowledged.
In recent years, France has offered its expertise in the development of India’s SSN programs but they have limited their cooperation to the conventional technology aspect. Recently in a trilateral security pact between Australia, United Kingdom, and the United States, both US and the UK have agreed to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines, where the US will also share nuclear propulsion technology with Australia but ruled out a similar offering to India even though India faces the brunt of Chinese Naval expansion activities in the Indian ocean.
India can’t rely on France, UK, or the US to get access to the nuclear propulsion technology for the development of its Nuclear submarine programs nor does it want to rely on them, but there is a considerable build-up of pressure on India to cut its defense ties with Russia but this could jeopardize India’s nuclear submarine programs by decades which India will resist even if there are threats of Western countries putting sanctions on India.
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