NEW DELHI, India, Feb. 9, Reuter: India has become Asia’s second nuclear maritime power but not with the class of Soviet nuclear submarine at first reported, foreign naval experts said on Tuesday.

National newspapers said India had leased a Soviet victor 1 class boat powered by two nuclear reactors.

But photographs of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at the welcoming ceremony last Wednesday clearly show him standing on a cruise missile Charlie 1 class boat which has only one reactor, the experts said.

Foreign journalists and military attaches were not invited to Vishakhapatnam naval base on the Bay of Bengal to witness the handover but the Indian press identified the boat as a victor I class and reeled off its specifications.

Indian officials declined to identify the boat or comment on why the press had carried the reports.

The Japanese Kyodo news agency identified the vessel as a Charlie 1 class boat when it sailed past Japan for India last month from the Easter Soviet port of Viadisvostok.

The government has released few details about the submarine, renamed Ins Chakra, which has been leased from Moscow for training purposes.

Defense analysts expect India to acquire at least three more nuclear submarines as part of its plan to tum its navy into a blue water fleet capable of projecting the country’s power throughout the Indian Ocean.

The acquisition of the submarine, which is not armed with nuclear missiles, makes India the second Asian nation after China with nuclear powered warships.

Defense analysts said concern about safety may have prompted the Russians to supply a one~ reactor boat rather than the two reactor submarine. Both boats « were built in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

They said several Russians would travel aboard the submarine while Indian troops who have been training for some time in the Soviet Union; learn to handle nuclear propulsion technology.

“With the Charlie class you’ve only got one reactor to worry about… that reduces the risks considerably”, said one analyst who asked not to be identified.

The Charlie 1 class, built at Gorky between 1967 and 1972, has a longer, fatter nose than the victor housing eight tubes for SS-N-7 cruise missiles which can be launched from underwater.

It also carries 14 torpedoes, the purely attack class victor has 18 torpedoes for anti-ship and antisubmarine warfare.

Article extracted from this publication >> February 12, 1988