Hard on the heels of media reports from Russia that an advanced nuclear attack submarine of Schucka-B class (NATO-designation Akula-2) has commenced sea trials comes reports from within India that batches of Indian naval personnel will shortly leave for Russia's far eastern port of Vladivostok to train on board the vessel due to be commissioned as INS Chakra.
An earlier INS Chakra, a Charlie class Russian nuclear submarine, was similarly taken on lease by the Indian Navy for a period of three years and returned in 1991.
The Akula-2 nuclear powered attack submarine (ex-Russian Navy Nerpa), reports suggest, will be transferred to India on a 10-year lease with the option of purchase at the end of the lease.
Earlier this week, the Komsomolsk on-Amur shipyard announced that the submarine had been moved out of the shipyard to a maintenance facility in the Primorye territory near Vladivostok for trials in the Sea of Japan. (See: Speculation mounts about Indian lease of new Russian nuclear attack sub)
The 12,000 tonne submarine is one of the quietest and deadliest of Russia's attack submarines and the version reportedly being handed over to the Indian Nay will be more advanced than the earlier models.
Reports have long suggested that an Indian crew had received training at a Russian facility in Sosnovy Bor, and subsequently at the School of Advanced Undersea Warfare in Visakhapatnam. Apparently these trained personnel will now board the new Chakra in small batches to familiarize themselves with the submarine. A final acceptance team, reports suggest, would leave for Russia in March next year.
The sub would be handed over to the Indian Navy in July for a likely commissioning date of 15 August 2009.
There has never been public confirmation of any such lease arrangements by either of the countries.
Ostensibly, the Nerpa is being leased for 10 years to train personnel to man the Indian designed and developed Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) a series of three indigenously built nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).
A fresh report in India would have it that the first ATV has now been completed and assigned as yet undisclosed name. The submarine will apparently be launched at the Shipbuilding Centre (SBC) in Visakhapatnam on 26 January next year to begin harbour trials.