India mulling purchase of 3 refurbished submarines from Russia

India is considering a proposal by Russia to supply the Indian navy with three refurbished submarines, capable of launching cruise missiles.

The Indian Navy is considering the proposal made by a Russian shipbuilding company to provide India with three refurbished ‘Kilo’ class diesel-electric submarines, local media reported.

The company – JSC United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) –offered a $1.8-2 billion “three plus three” package, which also includes upgrade work on India’s existing Kilo fleet of three.

The submarines on offer are reportedly about 30 years old.

An agreement was expected to be formalized at a meeting of Russian and Indian officials in Goa in March, which was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the past two decades, India and Russia have worked to upgrade the Indian Navy submarines – the “youngest'”of which was delivered by Russia back in 2000.

The proposed upgrade work will now extend the operational life of these vessels to 35 years.

The submarines, which run on batteries under water, are the most important class of underwater vessel in the Indian Navy.

According to a naval expert, these Russian submarines “are equipped with the Russian supplied 3M-14E Club-S missile which is roughly similar to the American Tomahawk.”

The offer comes months after Russia confirmed that the Indian Air Force was planning to “urgently buy” 21 ‘mothballed’ MiG-29 fighters.

The government had granted preliminary approval for the deal, estimated to be valued at $847 million, in February last year. The 21 MiG-29 jets are believed to be jets that were built in the Soviet era, but had not seen service.

Like the Kilo-class submarine, the MiG-29 is a numerically important weapon for the Indian Air Force, with over 60 jets in service. The Indian Air Force has been upgrading the MiG-29 with new radars, electronics, weapons and increased fuel capacity.

Russia’s proposal also comes one year after the two countries signed a $3.3 billion lease agreement for Akula-II nuclear-powered attack submarine in the Indian capital New Delhi.

The submarine, which is the third to be leased, would replace INS Chakra, which was taken on a 10-year lease from Moscow for $2.5 billion in 2011 with the lease expiring in 2022.

India signed another defense agreement with Russia two years ago to purchase S-400 Triumph missile defense systems.

Back in February, Russia said it has started the production of the missile systems for India.

The S-400 is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away.

The purchase of Russia’s S-400 missiles has become a major concern for the United States.

The US has made numerous attempts to scuttle the deal, warning New Delhi that the Russian systems could purportedly restrict India’s “interoperability” with American systems. Washington has also threatened India with sanctions over the purchase.

India, however, said previously that it would make its own arms purchases independently, without being influenced by other countries.