Russia to Lease Two Nuclear Submarines to India

February 18, 2002
Clay Moltz

Cristina Chuen

Russia to Lease Two Nuclear Submarines to India: Russian Nerpa Submarine

Russian Nerpa Submarine, Source: WikiMedia Commons

Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov has announced that Russia plans to lease two nuclear submarines to India. The statement was made during his visit to the Amurskiy Shipyard in the Russian Far East in late January 2002. The shipyard is constructing the first submarine India would lease – the Nerpa, a Shchuka B-class (NATO name ‘Akula II‘) nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN). The second submarine, the Kuguar, is being constructed in the Far North at the Sevmash facility in Severodvinsk. India will provide Russia with financing to complete construction of the two SSNs, while Russia will train four Indian submarine crews and provide India with the submarines for five years, beginning in 2004.

The leased submarines are expected to be armed with Club-S missiles (NATO name SS-NX-27 ‘Alfa’). (1) These missiles can be outfitted with supersonic 3M-54E or subsonic 3M-54EI antiship missiles, 3M-14E land attack cruise missiles or 91RE1 antisubmarine torpedoes. The 3M-54E and 3M-14E missiles can carry a warhead of up to 400 kg and have a range of about 300 km. (2) UPI quotes Russia’s Rosoboronexport arms sales agency as saying that construction of the submarines will resume when India makes the first $100 million payment. (3) According to Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, during the last four years India and Russia have signed military contracts worth $10 billion. (4) The submarine lease may open the door to sales of nuclear submarines and highly enriched uranium fuel for the submarine’s reactors. Although no country has ever sold a nuclear submarine, such sales are allowed under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) because the treaty does not restrict naval propulsion reactors. (5)


(1) Vladimir Urban, “‘Nerpa’ vsplyvet po komande khindi,” Novyye Izvestiya, 26 January 2002; in Universal Database of Central Russian Newspapers,
(2) “3M-54 Klub SS-N-27,” Federation of American Scientists,; “Klub (SS-N-27) ASCM,” Bharat Rakshak,
(3) United Press International, 28 January 2002,
(4) “Glava MID Indii zayavlyayet o namerenii uglublyat voyenno-tekhnicheskoye sotrudnichestvo s Rossiyey,” Agenstvo Voyennykh Novostey, 25 January 2002; in Universal Database of Russian Military and Security Periodicals,
(5) James Clay Moltz, “Closing the NPT Loophole on Exports of Naval Propulsion Reactors,” The Nonproliferation Review, Fall 1998,

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