India is likely to have its first indigenous nuclear submarine up and running shortly. Defence Minister A K Antony on Wednesday said the project was in its final stages and the launch would be announced once it is ready.
Commenting on the secretive Advance Technology Vehicle (ATV) project Indias efforts to develop a nuclear powered submarine to complete its triad or its ability to deliver nuclear weapons from the air,ground and sea the minister said though there had been some bottlenecks in the project,things were improving now.
Things are in the final stage. Some time ago,there were bottlenecks in terms of supply of parts. It is over now. We will announce it (the launch) whenever it gets ready, the Defence Minister said,after inauguration of the Aero India military air show here.
Indian Navy Chief Sureesh Mehta had hinted last year that the project was in the final stage and the vessel was likely to be launched by 2009.
While China already has three classes of operational nuclear submarines,including ones fitted with nuclear tipped missiles,India doesnt have an undersea platform to deliver nuclear weapons in a second strike or response attack.
India has also signed a lease agreement to take on a Russian Akula II class nuclear submarine for ten years to train its sailors,but the project got delayed after the Nerpa submarine had an accident onboard during sea trials in Russia.
While India never openly talks about the ATV project,in the past two years,the Defence Minister and the Navy Chief have been making subtle comments on the submarine. The Navy Chief said that a technology demonstrator submarine could be launched for sea trials by 2009.
Antony also reaffirmed that Indias defence spending would not be affected by the global slowdown.