The Russia-India submarine tango will blindside the US Navy

13 November 2015 Rakesh Krishnan Simha
Commissioning of Russian nuclear subs in the Indian Navy will generate a huge spinoff for both India and Russia.
INS Chakra

INS Chakra. Source:Anir1uph/wikipedia.org
Russia and India – either through design or happenstance – are set to engage the western navies in an interesting game of undersea hide and seek.

Chasing nuclear submarines is how major navies earn their keep. The Russian and US fleets track each other’s subs on a 24/7 basis by listening to the acoustic signatures – a combination of noise emissions – that are unique to each type of submarine.

For several decades the Americans held the advantage as they claimed to have quieter submarines. The Russians closed the gap by the mid-1980s and today their submarines have got the inside track on the US Navy. The net result is this undersea contest has become more intense now and the stakes are a lot higher too.

Unlike surface ships and aircraft, submarines do not have markings or IFF (Identify Friend/Foe) codes that can out them. The only way to identify a sub is through its acoustics. This aspect works to the advantage of Russia and India if both have the same class of submarines.

The signature of an Indian Navy Akula is indistinguishable from the acoustics of a similar submarine with the Russian Navy, making it difficult or perhaps impossible for the Americans to tell one from the other. As more Russian nuclear submarines join the Indian Navy’s undersea fleet, it just adds to the complexity of tracking Russian submarines. The US Navy will have to divert more time, effort, vessels, aircraft and personnel to this increasingly complex job.

The US Navy does not just track the Russian fleets but Indian Navy vessels too. According to a report by the Indian Military Review (February 2014), the American P3 Orion aircraft operating in the Indian Ocean are known to generate data on both Russian and Indian submarines.

Since secrecy is paramount for the survival of submarines – which usually lack self-defence weapons – India cannot risk any country knowing the whereabouts of its second strike element. Hoping the US will not pass on information about the location of Indian submarines to Pakistan or China is not only bad policy but potentially suicidal as well. The wiser option is to achieve submarine synergies between the Russian and Indian navies and blindside anyone who is tracking their fleets.

Reports that New Delhi is in talks with Moscow to lease a second nuclear submarine for 10 years suggests this undersea synergy could be a reality in the coming years.

Akula: Wolf of the sea

The latest submarine likely to be handed over to the Indian Navy will be the K-322 Kashalot, which Russia’s Pacific Fleet had kept in reserve. This is the third time India is leasing a nuclear-powered attack submarine from Russia.

The Kashalot belongs to the same Akula II class as the INS Chakra II which is currently on a 10-year lease to the Indian Navy. The 8140 ton vessel has a submerged speed of 30 knots, has achieved a dive of a phenomenal 620 metres and is equipped with eight torpedo tubes. It has an endurance of 100 days with a crew of 73. According to the RusNavy.com, the submarine achieved a Russian Navy record in 1991 by trailing foreign submarines for over 14 days without interruption.

No wonder the Indian Navy loves the Akula. “The Akula was built for one reason and one reason only: To kill US Navy ballistic missile submarines and their crews,” a US official told the Beacon. “It’s a very stealthy boat so it can sneak around and avoid detection and hope to get past any protective screen a boomer might have in place,” the official said, referring to the US Navy nickname for strategic missile submarines.

That pretty much sums up why the Akula was a big scare word among western navies during the 1980s. After a brief absence during the 1990s, when the Russian Navy shrank faster than a deflated balloon, these upgraded attack submarines are back, prowling the oceans.

Yasen for India?

If the Akula was a scareword, then the Yasen is a frightful nightmare for its opponents. The cruise-missile carrying boat was designed to target US aircraft carrier strike groups. Considering that India is a former victim of American gunboat diplomacy, the Yasen should be the perfect solution for scuttling any foreign adventurism in the Indian Ocean.

According to the US Naval Institute, “One of the US Navy’s top submarine officers was so impressed with Russia’s new (Yasen) nuclear attack boats that he had a model of K-329 Severodvinsk built for his office. Rear Admiral Dave Johnson said he had the model of Severodvinsk placed outside his office in a common area so that he could look at it every day on his way to his office.”

The 13,800 ton (more than double the size of the INS Arihant), 390 feet long submarine has a maximum “silent” speed of about 20 knots and a maximum speed of up to 40 knots. The sea endurance of these boats is limited only by food supplies.

The Yasen and similar new generation submarines have allowed the Russians to run rings around the Americans in recent years, demonstrating a quantum leap in technology and high levels of seamanship.

According to strategic affairs expert Bharat Karnad, “Despite the vaunted anti-submarine warfare capabilities of the US Navy, a Victor III class Russian SSN….tailed an Ohio-class SSBN almost to its pen in Guam without anybody getting wind of it — that’s how loud the US boomer is in turbulence terms and how little turbulence is generated by the Russian boat.”

He adds: “Russian subs have since the sixties carried electro-optical devices in the sail and the hull to detect turbulence and identify enemy subs by their turbulence signatures. The Yasen can be in the SSGN cruise missile-carrying configuration, or, if India so wishes, it can be modified to carry a mixed ordnance load of conventional cruise missiles and nuclear ballistic missiles. That would be a devastating dual-purpose land attack-cum-strategic targeting weapons platform nonpareil to have in the Indian Navy service. There’s nothing like the Yasen-class with the Chinese Navy.”

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Russian, Indian Troops Destroy ‘Terrorists’ in Drills

Russian and Indian soldiers during the joint anti-terrorist Russian-Indian drills

 

Russian and Indian troops conducted an exercise operation to destroy contingent terrorists as part of the Indra-2015 international military drills in India’s state of Rajasthan, the press service of Russia’s Southern Military District said Wednesday.

 According to a descriptive statement, a hypothetical group of ten militants captured two residential buildings, the press release said.

“Tactical task of Indian infantry units was to carry out a continuous clearing of the area with the simultaneous narrowing of the blocking ring, which allowed for the inspection of all [people] located in the area of operations,” the statement said.

After watching the Indian team in action, the Russians displayed their approach in fighting terrorists.

In order to achieve suddenness and efficiency for the operation, the Russian command blocked the perimeter, and sent in assault groups to seize certain facilities within the test grounds, according to the statement.Up to 250 Independent Russian Motorized Brigade troops arrived in India over the weekend to take part in the November 7-20 Indra-2015 exercises, focusing on “Counter-Terrorism Operations in Desert Terrain under a United Nations Mandate.” The same number of Indian Army Infantry Battalion soldiers are participating in the drills.

The exercises are expected to move from the first “Combat Conditioning and Tactical Training” phase to the active “Validation” phase on Monday.

Within the joint exercise Indra-2015 Indian servicemen familiarized themselves with Russian small arms

Within the joint Russian-Indian counter-terrorist exercise Indra-2015, Indian servicemen have familiarized themselves with Russian small arms at the Makhajan range, where the camp of the participants is deployed.

Trial shooting from pistols, Kalashnikov autorifles, AT and under-barrel mounted grenade launchers are planned.

Servicemen of the Southern MD motorized rifle units, in their turn, got interested in the weapons of the mechanized infantry units of the Indian Armed Forces. Moreover, representatives of the Indian party familiarized them with the history and traditions of India and their military base.

Tomorrow the Russian and Indian servicemen will show each other their counter-terrorist tactics. They will conduct a training operation on liberation of hostages from a settlement captured by terrorists.

The Indian servicemen will act taking into account the experience gained during the operations in Sierra Leone, Sudan, Kongo.

The Russian-Indian exercises Indra have been held since 2003. This year, the scenario of the exercise prescribes a United Nations-mandated counter-terrorist operation on the tactical level.

India Successfully Test Fires Agni-IV Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missile

An Agni IV missile capable of carrying nuclear warhead and a range of 2,500-3,500 kilometers is displayed during the main Republic Day parade in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012

India successfully test-fired an unarmed Agni-IV intermediate range ballistic missile on Monday

 

NEW DELHI  India successfully test-fired an unarmed Agni-IV intermediate range ballistic missile on Monday, local media reported.

The missile was launched at 9.45 a.m. local time (04:15 GMT) from the Wheeler Island and landed in the Bay of Bengal.

“Flight was successful and it met all the mission parameters,” a Defense Research and Development Organization official told The Hindu newspaper.

Agni-IV is a two-stage nuclear-warhead-capable intermediate-range ballistic missile equipped with advanced avionics. The missile has a maximum range of 2,500 miles and is capable of carrying a payload of approximately 2,200 pounds.

Russia May Provide India With Unique Military Technology

International Maritime Defense Show in St. Petersburg

India’s Major General (Retired) G D Bakshi said that Russia may provide India with unique, cutting-edge military technology, which no other country is able to deliver.

Russia may provide India with unique, cutting-edge military technology, which no other country is able to deliver, India’s Major General (Retired) G D Bakshi told Sputnik on Saturday when commenting on joint drills that kicked off involving the two countries.

“We have to put some deliberate efforts so as to improve our relationship with Russia. We have to understand that the technology which Russia is ready to give to India, like nuclear submarine, fifth generation fighter aircraft and cutting-edge technology, no other country is ready to give to us,” Bakshi said.

The joint Indra-2015 military drills on countering international terrorism are taking place in India’s northern Mahajan firing range until November 20 with the focus on the so-called Counter-Terrorism Operations in Desert Terrain under a United Nations Mandate, according to the Indian Defense Ministry.

Bakshi added that the main goal of the exercises is to boost army to army contacts and improve interoperability.

India, Russia to Hold Joint Military Drills on November 7-20

Russian servicemen during the Indra-2014 Russian-Indian joint drill

 

India and Russia will hold joint Indra-2015 military exercises in India’s largest state Rajasthan on November 7-20.

 India and Russia will hold joint Indra-2015 military exercises in India’s largest state Rajasthan on November 7-20, the Indian Defense Ministry said Thursday.

“A 250 member strong Russian Army contingent would arrive in Bikaner for INDRA-2015 for the joint exercise to be held with the Indian Army from 07 November to 20 November 2015,” the ministry said in a press release.

The seventh joint Indra drills will take place in northern India’s Mahajan firing range. The exercises will focus on ‘Counter Terrorism Operations in Desert Terrain under a United Nations Mandate,’ the press release added.

The drills are due to be conducted in two stages, namely “Combat Conditioning and Tactical Training” and “Validation,” according to the press release. Senior military officials from India and Russia are expected to observe the exercises.

Russia and India have maintained close partnership in military and technical cooperation for decades. The two countries have been conducting joint military drills annually since 2003.

Russia, India Positively Asses Work of Supersonic BrahMos Cruise Missile

India's supersonic Brahmos cruise missiles

 

Moscow and New Delhi positively asses work of the Indo-Russian supersonic BrahMos cruise missile and a fifth-generation fighter plane, the Russian Defense Ministry press service said Monday.

 The BrahMos short-range supersonic missile, developed by Russia and India, has been in use by the Indian Navy since 2005. The missile has a range of 180 miles and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 660 pounds.

“The sides positively assessed the progress of work on the design of a promising multifunctional fighter aircraft and a multi-purpose cargo aircraft, a licensed production of Su-30MKI fighters and T-90S tanks, the implementation of the program for the creation and production of BrahMos missiles…,” the press service said after the meeting of a Russian-Indian intergovernmental commission on military-technical cooperation.

The sides also exchanged views on the current state and future prospects of Russian-Indian military cooperation.