Early April this year, most recent and most potent submarine, the nuclear-powered INS Chakra was formally inducted into the Indian Navy by Defence Minister A K Antony. The Indian Navy acquired the 12,000 tonne Akula-II class submarine K-152 Nerpa renamed as INS Chakra II, on a ten-year lease from Russia at a cost of $900 million. Induction of this vessel into the fleet makes the Indian Navy the sixth in the world to operate such a vessel and gives it the badly needed underwater combat capabilities. INS Chakra’s capabilities are provided by a 190-Mw nuclear reactor, powerful enough to light up a medium-sized city. It is armed with the versatile Russian Klub anti-surface missiles that can strike a ship almost 300 kilometres away. It also has four 533-mm and four 650-mm torpedo tubes.
The nuclear submarine will enhance India’s power and strategic reach in the Indian Ocean Region and lend the Indian Navy the capability to undertake “sea denial” missions and choke Chinese shipping in the Straits like Malacca and Hormuz. INS Chakra will be a true game changer. The Indian Navy has mooted a proposal for a second similar vessel from Russia.