As the Indo-Pacific region is on high alert for emerging tensions, the Indian navy is now working to diverge submarines, with plans to develop six SSN-class submarines. Incited by the Chinese navy, expanding rapidly, India came up with an ideology to replace the conventionally used diesel-powered attack submarine with SSNs.
India currently possesses one Akula class submarine (INS Chakra) and one ballistic missile-firing submarine (INS Arighat), chartered by and from the Russian Federation. The Strategic Forces Command oversees both of them. Ballistic missile-firing submarines (all of them), commonly known as SSBNs, are under the control of the Strategic Forces Command and are not under the control of the Indian Navy.
As of now, the Indian Navy estimates the project will take at least ten years to complete. According to national security experts, after the Modi administration accepts the amendments to the 30-year-old plan, the Indian Navy would get an acceptance of need (AON) from the Defence Ministry before soliciting request for bids from major partners for collaborative upbuilding and development of the six nuclear-powered submarines under the Atmanirbhar Bharat ("Make in India") route.
In the wake of the shifting geopolitical landscape in the Indo-Pacific, the Indian Navy has petitioned the Narendra Modi administration for authorization to make adjustments to the Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS) authorized 30-year submarine development plan by substituting six conventional assault boats with nuclear-powered platforms.
In July 1999, the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee authorized a 30-year submarine program to fill the armory of the Indian navy with 24 diesel attack submarines. The Indian Navy currently possesses 12 old conventional and traditional attack submarines ( diesel-powered) and three modern-day Kalvari class-like nuclear submarines, the first of which was approved in 2005 and later came into action in December 2017 on behalf of a program worth 23,652 crores.
The adjustment in 1999 plans was desired in light of the People's Liberation Army Navy's (PLAN) fast expansion of its nuclear submarine capability and to secure the Indo-Pacific from potential enemy dominance. The navy is said to have asked the Cabinet for permission to increase its submarine fleet to 18 conventional diesel attack submarines, including those with air-independent propulsion, and six nuclear assault submarines, or SSNs.
While the Indian Navy sought six more AIP-equipped diesel submarines to satisfy the 30-year submarine force levels. The National security planners persuaded the Admirals that a nuclear attack submarine, with the ability to lie below the surface for months at a time, is a far more powerful and crucial platform, and it could just emerge for crew change and supplies when needed. Due to temperature differences on the surface and below water, submarines are a very effective weapon in the Indian Ocean's equatorial waters. Submarines in equatorial waters are the most difficult to detect, as they nearly camouflage because of the total internal reflection caused by changes in the medium. The SSNs will act as a deterrent for both sea access and sea denial to the opponents as a result of this phenomenon.
All INS Kalvari class submarines will be retrofitted with the new technology during upgrades or mid-life refits, thanks to the Defence Research and Development Organization's (DRDO) ability to develop the AIP technology in-house. The Indian Navy will also make an orbital leap, transitioning from diesel submarines to nuclear submarines with conventional cruise missiles.