A Case for Amur
From partnership to joint development, Rubin Design Bureau offers the world

Andrey L. Baranov & Vladimir Baikov St Petersburg: In India, warnings are seldom taken seriously. Even disasters that follow the warnings are usually accepted with a sense of philosophical fatalism. So, for whatever it is worth, here is a warning from the Rubin Design Bureau of Russia which has designed the Kilo class submarines, 10 of which the Indian Navy operates: Two Indian submarines are past their service life and the third one is quickly on the way. Anything can happen to these boats and the responsibility will be of the Indian Navy.

Talking to FORCE during the IMDS, deputy director, foreign economic activities, Rubin Design Bureau, Andrey I. Baranov eschewed diplomacy for some hard talk. The life of a diesel-electric submarine designed by Rubin is 25 years. Life extension of the submarine is possible after a thorough inspection of the boat to ascertain areas which needs to be worked upon. Ideally, the process of life extension should commence after 10 years of the submarine’s service life.

“We have been discussing this with the Indian Navy for many years,” says Baranov. “Not only have we impressed upon them the need for detailed inspection, I also feel that we must carry out a second overhaul on the boats. But the Indian Navy has still not asked us for a detailed inspection.” Even when they ask, it is going to be a lengthy bureaucratic process. The government to government request will have to be made, after which Russia would appoint an agency to carry out the inspection, which itself will be extensive and time-consuming given the sensitivity of the platform.

Indian Navy operates 10 of Rubin-designed, Admiralty Shipyard-built Kilo class submarines, the first of which, INS Sindhughosh, arrived in India in 1986 and the last, INS Sindhushastra, in 2000. Even if the class of the submarine is same, their vintage is varied. Hence, the amount of modernisation or refit that each boat can undergo will be different. For example INS Sindhurakshak has recently returned from Russia after a midlife refit and all of them have been fitted with the Russian Klub missile. But now when the navy is getting them fitted with the Land Attack Cruise Missile (LACM), the individual lives of the boats are coming in the way. After all, there is only this much one can do to a platform which comes with a sell-by date.
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