India is in talks with Russia for the lease of a second nuclear submarine, said a senior official in the Russian defence industry.

India is ready to finance the completion of a partly constructed nuclear submarine which sits at the Amur Shipbuilding Plant in the Russian Far East, the Russian government news agency RIA Novosti quoted an unnamed “highly-placed” source in the defence industry.

The submarine belongs to the same Project 971 as the Nerpa submarine which India leased from Russia in 2011 for 10 years at a cost of $970 million. It was commissioned as INS Chakra in April 2012.

“India has expressed interest in having the second submarine of this project completed,” the Russian official said. “The strong hull of the submarine is fully ready and carefully kept in a slipway at the Amur Shipyard.”

The official said an inter-government agreement for the resumption of the submarine construction is “in the works”.

“As was the case with the first submarine, the second one would be up for lease, not sale,” he said.

Russia had agreed to lease two nuclear submarines to India under a package deal for the retrofit of the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, but four years ago Russia’s top defence export official suggested that Moscow could lease “several” nuclear submarines to India.

“There is a real possibility of leasing to India for 10 years several of our nuclear powered multi-role submarines of Project 971 ‘Shchuka-B’ class,” Director of Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS) Mikhail Dmitriyev said in December 2008, shortly after the delivery of the Nerpa submarine was postponed following an accidental discharge of poisonous fire-fighting gas aboard the vessel that killed 20 seamen during sea trials.

However, Russia today has only one unfinished Project 971 submarine, Irbis, which was mothballed due to lack of funds at the Amur Shipyard in the 1990s when it was 42-percent ready.

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