Vladimir Radyuhin

The Nerpa nuclear submarine was launched at the Amur shipyard

MOSCOW: A nuclear-powered submarine that will reportedly be leased to India was launched at a shipyard in the Russian Far East, a news agency report said.

The Nerpa nuclear submarine was launched at the Amur shipyard and will join Russia's Pacific Fleet in 2007 after undergoing sea trials, the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Vice-Admiral Anatoly Shlemov on Friday.

However, earlier reports said the Nerpa submarine was to be leased for 10 years to India under a 2004 secret deal. Indian and Russian officials have denied the reports.

Nerpa is the Project 971 third-generation submarine (NATO code name Akula-II), the most advanced Russian nuclear attack submarine. The Russian Navy's Akula-II submarines are equipped with 28 nuclear-capable cruise missiles with a striking range of 3,000 km. The Indian version is expected to be armed with the 300-km Club nuclear-capable missiles.

Russia test-fired a ballistic missile Friday. The RSM-54 missile (Skiff SSN-23 in NATO codification), launched from the Tula nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea, hit a target on the Kura test range some 3,000 miles away, in the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia's far east, defence officials said.