Submarines: August 23, 2005


On August 18th, Indian Admiral Raja Mohan told an American audience that India was secretly building a nuclear submarine (an SSN, attack sub). The secrecy was a result of  Indian fears that the U.S. would make a fuss over it (non-proliferation issues and all that.) Its long been rumored that India wanted to have nuclear subs again. Between 1988-91, India did use a leased Russian nuclear sub in service. Not happy with the Russian design, India has been casting about for alternatives ever since. For nearly a decade, Russia has offered to lease, or sell, India more modern nuclear subs. Rumors persist that Indian officers and sailors are headed for a special nuclear sub training facility in Russia, and that India is about to buy or lease another Russian sub. Admiral Mohans pronouncement adds another layer of mystery. 

There have also been rumors of India wanting to buy nuclear sub manufacturing technology. Increasingly, India wants to built its own high tech weapons. Buying the needed technology from Russia has been a favorite approach. Not just because Russian tech is cheaper (and comes with fewer political and diplomatic strings), but it is lower tech that similar stuff found in Western nations. While India has a lot of high tech capability, its weapons industries have a reputation for taking too long, and generally screwing things up. This approach does not work when it comes to building nuclear subs. So using a lower tech approach is more likely to succeed.

Mohans announcement joins many similar ones from Indian officials. They all point to definite interest in getting nuclear subs for Indias navy, one way or another.


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