(c) K.B. Sherman, 2003
In early December, sales of antacids soared in Pakistan upon the report in The Indian Express that New Delhi had agreed to lease a nuclear cruise missile submarine (SSGN) from Russia as part of a three year arms deal. The sale of the Russian-made aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, announced earlier this year, also was expected to be wrapped up. Such a lease would complement India’s existing airplane and land-based nuclear missile capability.
The submarine is likely to be one of two classes. The first is one of the two Project 949A (NATO code name: Oscar-II) submarines that have been decommissioned by Russia. Nine remain active with the Russian Navy and the twelfth -- Kursk -- sank in a highly publicized incident when a torpedo being tested exploded aboard. Designed in the 1980s to sink US Navy carrier battle groups, the Oscar-II carries – among other weapons -- the SS-N-19 “Granit” anti-ship cruise missile (NATO code-name: Shipwreck), which has a range of 300 miles. The other likely lease candidate is a Project 971 sub (NATO code-name: Akula), an exceptionally quiet vessel. Russia has 14 of these, though it is unknown if all are currently serving. This class also carries the Granit anti-ship missile, as well as SS-N-15 and SS-N-16 dedicated anti-ship missiles.
The Indian navy has about 18 submarines, some armed with SS-N-27 “Klub” anti-ship missile, which has a range of 180 miles.