Strong defence: Modi approves construction of 6 nuclear-powered submarines

Published: February 18, 2015
A file photo of a nuclear-powered submarine. PHOTO: AFP

A file photo of a nuclear-powered submarine. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI: In a bid towards building a formidable blue-water Navy for the future, the Modi government in India has approved the construction of six nuclear-powered submarines and seven stealth frigates, which together will cost about Rs1 lakh crore (INR), The Times of India reports.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has taken these decisions with “critical necessity” for India to bolster its “overall deterrence capability” in the Indian Ocean region, particularly its primary area of strategic interest stretching from the Persian Gulf to Malacca Strait.

Under the over Rs 50,000 crore ‘Project-17A’ for stealth frigates, four will be constructed at Mazagon Docks in Mumbai and three in Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers in Kolkata. “The contract will be inked with MDL and GRSE this month itself, with an initial payment of Rs 4,000 crore,” said a source.

The new multi-mission frigates will be larger, faster and stealthier than the Shivaliks as well as packed with more weapons and sensors to operate in “a multi-threat environment”.

The complex project for the nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) will take longer.

After the CCS approval, technical parameters or naval staff qualitative requirements (NSQRs) will now be drafted for the over 6,000-tonne submarines.

The SSNs are likely to be constructed at the secretive ship-building centre (SBC) in Vizag, where India’s first three SSBNs (nuclear-powered submarines with nuclear ballistic missiles) are being built to complete the country’s nuclear weapons triad.

Nuclear-powered submarines are much deadlier than diesel-electric submarines since they do not need to surface every few days to get oxygen to recharge their batteries.

“SSNs, which usually carry only conventional missiles, can swiftly and quietly undertake long-range patrols. They can run at high speeds like 30 knots for much longer distances, hunting for targets and gathering intelligence,” said an expert.

Armed with 300km range Klub-S land-attack cruise missiles and advanced torpedoes, INS Chakra can be a potent ‘hunter-killer’ of enemy submarines and warships as well as provide effective protection to a fleet at sea.

Modi vows to end India status as top defence importer

Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed Wednesday to end India’s status as the world’s number one defence importer, saying he wanted 70% of hardware to be manufactured domestically by the turn of the decade.

Speaking at the start of a major aviation industry conference, Modi told hundreds of foreign and local businessmen that his government would favour domestic firms when awarding defence contracts as part of a larger push to boost India’s manufacturing sector.

“We have the reputation as the largest importer of defence equipment in the world,” the prime minister said at the biennial Aero India show in the southern city of Bangalore.

“That may be music to the ears of some of you here. But this is one area where we would not like to be number one,” he added.

“We are reforming our defence procurement policies and there will be a clear preference for the equipment manufactured in India.”

India, which has long been the world’s largest buyer of defence equipment, is in the midst of a multi-billion-dollar upgrade of its ageing military hardware and recently lifted a cap on foreign investment in defence.

While his right-wing government has pledged to push forward with planned military purchases, which stalled under the previous centre-left Congress administration, Modi is determined that does not come at the expense of the domestic defence industry.

The prime minister said he wanted domestically made equipment to account for 70% of the procurement budget within five years, up from the current 40%, in what he said would be a major boon to the economy.

“A nation with a strong defence industry will not only be more secure. It will also reap rich economic benefits,” said Modi.

Modi also said he wanted global firms to invest in India, for example by transferring some technology to local firms, as part of negotiating their lucrative deals to sell hardware.

He said India’s offset policy, which requires foreign contractors to invest a percentage of the value of their deal in India, needed further reform.

“I want our offsets policy not as a means to export low-end products, but to acquire state-of-the art technology and skills in core areas of priority,” Modi said.

The five-day show, which is held at an air base on the northern outskirts of the city, attracts the bosses of hundreds of aviation and defence firms.

The United States has the largest contingent this year, with 64 companies including Boeing, followed by France, Britain, Russia and Israel.

France’s Rafale will be among fighter jets, transport and other planes showcased at the air show as the country attempts to seal a long-delayed $12-billion deal to supply 126 of the jets to India.

France’s defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, is due in India next week to discuss the deal.

India chose French company Dassault Aviation in January 2012 for exclusive negotiations for the jets but successive deadlines to complete one of the world’s biggest defence contracts have slipped by.

Indian newspapers reported this month that the deal had become stuck in a disagreement about prices.

Israel’s Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon is attending the air show as the country also attempts to grab a larger stake of India’s military modernisation plans.

Reacting to Modi’s speech, the Israeli embassy said the country was open to technology transfer and joint production of hardware with India.

“It’s a great opportunity to expand the already-close cooperative relationship that we have with India,” embassy spokesperson Ohad Horsandi told AFP.

The United States displaced traditional ally Russia as India’s top supplier of armaments in 2013 and Washington and New Delhi renewed their 10-year Defence Framework Agreement during US President Barack Obama’s visit last month aimed at fostering stronger trade ties.

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Reader Comments (37)

  • Asad Khan
    Feb 18, 2015 - 12:14PM

    But the downside nuclear Submarine are more nosier (detection) than conventional diesel electric submarines. They are good for high seas operations. It is not entirely necessary that only nuclear submarine can carry ballistic missiles, conventional can do this too.

    Overall, for Blue water navy having nuclear submarine is an essential component but it is not the end of the world.

    Israel, Singapore, Japan & Germany etc they do not posses nuclear submarines but their Subs are deadly silent and can fire nuclear cruise missile from their torpedoes tubes.

    Pakistan does not need either the Aircraft Career or the Nuclear Submarine, it does not fit in her doctrine.


  • NoNy
    Feb 18, 2015 - 12:28PM

    What is 1 Lakh carore ? you mean to say 1,000,000,000,000 ? that is 1000 billion by the way!Recommend

  • Burki
    Feb 18, 2015 - 1:08PM

    construction?? err … cheap Russian knockoffs Recommend

  • Hashim
    Feb 18, 2015 - 1:18PM

    They are doing this for second strike capability in the event of a nuclear war. Pakistan must respond. There goes money for a few thousand schools!Recommend

  • anurag
    Feb 18, 2015 - 1:30PM

    1 lakh corer is approximately 16-17 billion dollars Recommend

  • Engineer
    Feb 18, 2015 - 1:43PM

    @Asad Khan But the downside nuclear Submarine are more nosier (detection) than conventional diesel electric submarines.

    This issue has been solved. Check out the advanced US Los Angeles submarine and Russian akula submarine. They are pin drop silent.

    It is not entirely necessary that only nuclear submarine can carry ballistic missiles, conventional can do this too.

    No it can’t. The conventional ones need lot of energy and fuel to carry ballistic missiles given their weight and they aren’t huge to fit ballistic missiles.

    Israel, Singapore, Japan & Germany etc they do not posses nuclear submarines but their Subs are deadly silent and can fire nuclear cruise missile from their torpedoes tubes.

    Japan and Germany by their own constitution are not allowed to have Nuclear submarines or nukes. Israel and Singapore doesn’t need to have Nuclear submarines. They don’t have blue water navy ambitions and they are pretty small countries. It doesn’t make sense to have Nuclear submarines.

    And torpedoes tubes can’t fire nuclear cruise missiles. Torpedoes are their to destroy a submarine or a ship not to nuke them, well unless you have some mercy on marine life in the sea.

    Pakistan does not need either the Aircraft Career or the Nuclear Submarine, it does not fit in her doctrine.

    It is not a question of having or not having. It’s just the fact it can’t have and it can’t build. Each Nuclear submarine costs atleast $1 billion a pop. Add R & D if you don’t have any industrial base it will go to $5 – $10 billion, a money Pakistan can’t afford. And China is not going to give it either since they are prohibited by international treaties. Even India is operating Akula class sub with no missiles leased from Russians. No matter what Nuclear submarines are a game changer in your Navy arsenal. Recommend

  • Mohammad
    Feb 18, 2015 - 1:53PM

    keep it up, waste your money and let your kids die with hunger…!!

    Modi…. if you keeping in mind that Pakistan is your enemy, one good submarine is enough… and if china is in your thoughts than may be two.

    But six submarines? No doubt Indians are going to suffer a lot, and Pakistanis too as we have to have counter measures for these submarines. Recommend

  • Vectra
    Feb 18, 2015 - 2:15PM

    This is the news of the day,Earlier it was planned 24 diesel electric submarine but now the plan was little twisted and this time the number was same 24 but with 18 diesel electric+ 6 SSN Nuclear powered.This is a long term plan,that means we can be sure that India will have 9 Nuclear powered submarine till 2030 comfirmed i.e 6 SSN and 3 SSBN.But this number can increase apart from these 9 now confirmed and will be signed this month as the GOVT planned for more bigger follow on Arihant class SSBN which was also on card and may be decided later after initial 3 SSBN complete development.Then 7 new bigger follow on Stealth frigate Project-17A.Great Great news indeed.Since Modi Govt is expected to remain in power for 10 years almost all 7 frigate and at least 3-4 SSN should have already completed development by them.This long term plan is now set + India plans to buy 3 more follow on Talwar class frigate from Russia as well.Good newsRecommend

  • Gurion
    Feb 18, 2015 - 2:54PM


    keep it up, waste your money and let
    your kids die with hunger…!!

    Somehow, when it comes to superiority of Indian armed forces in comparison to those of Pakistani ones, Pakistanis suddenly become filled with empathy for Indians. The empathy that they don’t have towards their own people!Recommend

  • Mazo
    Feb 18, 2015 - 2:58PM

    @Asad Khan:
    Japan, Singapore and Germany don’t have “nuclear cruise missiles” to fire from torpedo tubes. They have only conventional cruise missiles. And the reason nuclear missiles are stored on nuclear submarines is for second strike guarantee. Diesel Electric submarines need to surface every 2 weeks (with AIP 3 weeks). They can be tracked – and destroyed.

    SSBNs on the other hand can stay underwater for 2 months continuously (possibly more if enough food and water is available on board the submarine). They are very hard to track and have enough energy to power large submarines with large payloads. Recommend

  • Anand Rathore
    Feb 18, 2015 - 3:02PM

    No my friend is not going to suffer bcoz we spend just 2.5% of our budget n we can afford and building of submarines Not to scare Pak u know for that we don’t need to have any nevy but it’s for China and India’s Dream to be super power. Our economy is 3rd largest In PPP Terms and 8th as nominal and going to be 3rd as well so we are doing what we Can afford think about ur own people when Ur ArmY when try to counter Indian nevy @Mohammad: Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 18, 2015 - 3:03PM

    I hope not another sub marine accident. not something like dhruv helisRecommend

  • Mazo
    Feb 18, 2015 - 3:08PM

    6 SSNs means 2 in refit, 2 in dock and 2 on patrol at any given time. This is insufficient in the long term and one can expect more SSNs to be commissioned as maintaining a mixed submarine force is uneconomical.

    Also, there is a high possibility that these 6 SSNs with have significant Land-attack capability and will carry a large complement of cruise missiles – making it more SSGN in category than purely SSN. Recommend

  • ajeet
    Feb 18, 2015 - 3:33PM

    Pakistani weapons are cheap knockoffs of Chinese weapons which were a pirated knock off of Russian ones.Recommend

  • Prada
    Feb 18, 2015 - 3:59PM

    @Mohammad: Think Tharparkar.
    By the way, India’s per capita income is higher than Pakistan’s and the gap is getting bigger. Give us another 10 years and we’ll talk.Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 18, 2015 - 5:27PM

    Yet you are so insecure of chinese and us. With all so awesome hardware already yet you are top military hardware buyer. And our knock offs, if any, are not some used old russain machinerys left over parts that u put together.
    And no battle is won without a great brain behind machinery else a monkey holding 10 guns could win warsRecommend

  • Asad Khan
    Feb 18, 2015 - 6:20PM


    Diesel Electric AIP subs, while having disadvantages – mainly regarding speed and range – compared to nuclear submarines, also have many advantages that make than a must-have for any serious naval force. They can also be a nightmare for ASW and any other surface or submerged units when employed properly.

    Guess what!
    India is also building 6 diesel electric (Scorpene Class) submarine for a reason.


    Feb 18, 2015 - 7:04PM

    look dude… we as indians hear that pakistan is like some arid desert countries where terrorists roam with ak47 in their hands on the back of a toyota pick up truck. but things arnt like that at all… is it??? infact pakistan is one of the most beautiful countries in the region… likewise things arnt that bad in india… even in my state assam as you might things people are poor… dont get basic right etc etc things are quite opposite… you would be amazed by the number of schools and hospitals booming up even in the eastern most major town of india…tinsukia
    You might be some random pakistani who hate india and doesnot want to see india progressing… no offense though but the defence budget of india atands at 2.5 % of our gdp… which takes much less stress than pakistan and a little more than China which stands at 2.00 % of their gdp… the point is that indian economy can bear such procurements… our main threat is China as you would know… the plan has more than 50 subs including nuclear ones where ours at present stands at less than 15… most of which are aeging ssk…so we must take such steps to protect our interests although it is too late…
    MODI is just speeding up the earlier stalled projects…which are vitalRecommend

  • woody
    Feb 18, 2015 - 9:25PM

    India has more pressing needs than a blue water navy which is not only expensive to build but expensive to maintain. India’s steady advancement is due to commerce not military.Recommend

  • devindersingh
    Feb 19, 2015 - 12:10AM

    @Mohammad: lol, you shouldn’t care about india bro, india already sekk submarine to Vietnam War r indian companies already got orders for maymar, so relaxe, do you have anymore work rather then war, india going to set up industry corridor we buold and you take care your own country, or we never scared from pakistan bcz we knew you can’t do anything.or rhis is its upon you believe or notRecommend

  • Gp65
    Feb 19, 2015 - 12:23AM

    Yes Ma’m and please review an account of India and Pakistan confrontation. 1971 is beyond dispute of course. But Pakistan coild ot reverse Siachen while India reversed Kargill. Even the 1965 war (which by the way was started by Pakistan) was nt the victory ou all are old it was. India was in control of far more Pakistani territory than Pakistan was of India despite hav ing the element of surprise on its side.

    As far as being insecure about Pakistan and China – Indian media said Xi is unlikely to visit next month on Pakistan day. It DID NOT say he will never visit. There is nothing different that Chinese envoy is saying. He is just saying that Xi will visit and dates are being worked out. What does that mean? That the Macrh 23 date is not confirmed. we will find out soon enough if Indiamedia was correct or not.

    The headline in Dawn that you are probably referring to was incorrect. No insecurity by India.Recommend

  • PrasadDeccani
    Feb 19, 2015 - 12:23AM

    @Asad Khan:
    “It is not entirely necessary that only nuclear submarine can carry ballistic missiles, conventional can do this too.”

    Your statement is correct. However, conventional subs cannot be under water for a long time; they have to pop up for refueling more frequently. Nuclear subs can remain submerged for a couple of months at a stretch, even longer if situation demands.Recommend

  • Feb 19, 2015 - 5:00AM

    Never mind the military aspect. These projects will generate tens of thousands of jobs which Indians badly need.Recommend

  • hellboy
    Feb 19, 2015 - 7:03AM

    @NoNy: That is around 17 billion US$ as per Indian currency value.Recommend

  • woody
    Feb 19, 2015 - 8:58AM

    @[email protected]:

    Never mind the military aspect. These
    projects will generate tens of
    thousands of jobs which Indians badly

    If jobs is your goal then why not build schools, hospitals, clean water projects etc … you get more value added with those investments than any “blue water” navy. You don’t change 3’rd World status by nukes or military expenditures.Recommend

  • Deepak
    Feb 19, 2015 - 9:22AM

    @Gp65 Some people are war mongers, you can always ignore them, people like them have made Pakistan an ignorant state, whereas majority of Pakistanis are much different then these war mongers who come and ridicule everything, and pat on back of cleric who says that earth is Flat Recommend

  • PAkistani
    Feb 19, 2015 - 9:32AM

    We have second strike capability.Their subs are not meant for Pakistan they are meant to make India a global power.Recommend

  • Proletarian
    Feb 19, 2015 - 9:33AM

    Pakistan’s Navy would find itself at the bottom of the sea pretty fast if we ever went to war with India now. And it seems to me with all their ‘blue water navy’ chest thumping that India seems to be looking to replace the Americans as the hegemon of the Persian Gulf and the Arabia sea.Recommend

  • Virkaul
    Feb 19, 2015 - 9:52AM

    It is apprxly $ 16 billionRecommend

  • zara haq
    Feb 19, 2015 - 12:00PM

    Yea when u cant answer then call others war mongers. and what cleric ??and i wud any given day cheer for any religion person for claiming flat earth compared to cheering for those wgo claim india was a nuclear power 4000 years back though it has been sitting so dependent on obama to sign the nuclear deal.

    @Proletarian , we see who is chest thumping. But plz carry on underestimating pak. Pleasure is all ours. And you will never be hegemons of arabian sea even in your dreams. Remember your coast guard cant even chase down a small boat and blew it up.

    Hey Et Dont ignore my comment.Recommend

  • Neo
    Feb 19, 2015 - 12:33PM

    Just a couple of years ago a nuclear powered Indian submarine met a deadly accident killing 18 navy men and later got submerged. There are others deadly accidents as well.

  • Mazo
    Feb 19, 2015 - 6:29PM

    Nuclear scientists and submariners can’t find employment in schools and hospitals.

    Nobody wants to be a “teacher” in some village school – people want to be scientists and engineers, sailors and submariners.

    India has plenty of schools and hospitals already – they are poorly run and poorly managed because the people who work there don’t care and don’t want to work there. Recommend

  • Mazo
    Feb 19, 2015 - 6:39PM


    No nuclear powered Indian submarine was ever damaged – the submarine you are talking about is a diesel electric submarine and it was at port when ammunition was being loaded leading to an accident.

    Naval war is a highly dangerous business and accidents do happen in a busy navy. But that is no reason not to take corrective action and meet the needs of the nation. Recommend

  • kulwant singh
    Mar 8, 2015 - 11:25PM

    @zara: Even after 68 years you have failed to produce even a Diesel locomotive which India started producing in 1954. Will you let me know about the rail tracks layed by Pakistsan during last 68 years and the track electrified so far but what is the use of having electrified rail track when there is power for domestic consumption, no power, no petrole. We have rail tracks in a state like Kashmir and rail reached Srinagar and Baramulla have laid a kilometer of track in so called AJK, we have money so we spend we never go to USA or Chine,KSA with begging bowel,so never worry about us worry about your self.Recommend

  • zara
    Mar 9, 2015 - 11:31PM

    @kulwant singh:
    How many cars you hve produced that you export overseas. You know te quality of your maruti or whatever it is. Did you manufacture the diesel engine back then in 54. You do remember how much of pakistan’s share was usurped by india at partition’s time. Even our army intentionlly was deprived of its due defense share. And how we have built up from so less.
    Do you build your own railway engines. Do you build all the parts that are used in an engine?? Are you sure you build everything from scratch. And since partition till early 90s india was the highest foreign aid recieving developing country in world. even till dste your total aid figure is higehr than ours.
    You check how high is your intl debt. Go google. And don’t mix aid with debt. They are diferent.
    You too have your begging bowl but its just that its the media that doesn’t focus on it.
    and if you talk about aid then , who pushed us into this war on terror. Usa. Our op costs have been barely covered by that aid. Why was india last year begging imf for loans to clean ganges water.
    If asking for loans is begging bowl, though i don’t condone it, then india isn’t behind in that race either.
    Sardar ji do come back and reply. I am waiting.
    And plz don’t worry about electrical tracks , thats our problem.Recommend

  • Amar
    Mar 21, 2015 - 1:16AM

    yes indeed, India manufactuers her railway engines indigenously at DLW and CLW
    ever heard of GTRE -Bangalore? or TATA? google their research in automobile engines-I’m sure that would be enough to put you to shame… ;)Recommend

  • kulwant singh
    Mar 21, 2015 - 7:41AM

    @zara: All the progress India made is due to the usurped share of Pakistan. We are manufacturing many cars, trucks, not only Maruti go the site of Maruti and you will find what they produce, go the site TATA ,Leyland, BHEL, HAL and your eyes will wide open but you can only cry, you failed to construct any dams and the result is that the water flows to the sea and bring havoc by floods. And a begger can not be master the masters you are not even a sovereign state had it been so the Navy seals helicopters had not dared to enter you country and drones every day strike at will if you have the guts ask the US to stop it but u can do it because if u do it from where will u have dollers. We are manufacturing our own rail coaches and u are importing even cycles. Recommend

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