India is to lease a multi-role nuclear submarine from Russia for 10 years under a deal signed earlier this year, according to the defence industry sources.
"The two nations have inked the deal for the 10-year lease of the submarine of project 971 (Nato name Akula-II)," Itar-Tass reported, quoting unnamed defence industry sources.
The Akula-II class third generation nuclear powered submarine was inducted by the Soviet Navy in 1984 and is said to be superior to the deadly US 'Los Angeles' class nuclear submarines.
According to Itar-Tass, a similar N-submarine "Vepr" (Boar), built in 1996, recently took part in the first ever war games with France.
The submarine to be leased by India is a Project 971 'Nerpa' (Sea Seal) nuclear submarine, which is being constructed at the Amur ship building facility, Komsomolsk-on-Amur town right across the Chinese border.
"It is 85 per cent ready right now," another source was quoted as saying by Interfax agency.
India and Russia had agreed on the leasing deal at the beginning of this year, Interfax reported, quoting an unnamed official.
The submarine is expected to be ready by 2007. An Indian crew will then arrive in Russia for the training.
According to experts, India would be paying tens of millions of dollars annually for the lease.
In 1990s, India and Russia had agreed on a package to boost Indian Navy's blue water capability, which included the simultaneous acquisition of Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, lease of two Akula class nuclear submarines and four Tu-22M3 (Nato name Backfire) strategic bombers.
In January last, the two countries had announced inking of Gorshkov deal in New Delhi paving the way for progress on other components of the package.