The Russian Ministry of Defence is upgrading its third-generation Akula-class Project 971 nuclear-powered attack submarines, according to Malakhit Design Bureau head Vladimir Dorofeyev.
Dorofeyev was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying that currently, the first Project 971 submarine is undergoing moderation at the Zvezdochka shipyard in northern Russia.
Further details of other vessels, which will undergo refit and the total number of submarines to be upgraded, were undisclosed.
Upgrades include installation of enhanced electronics and technology to improve stealth capabilities. The first Akula-class submarine is expected to complete modernisation in two years and will undergo sea trails prior to its deliver to the navy, Dorofeyev added.
Built at Amur and Sevmash shipyard, the submarines feature very low acoustic signatures and can carry up to 12 Granit submarine-launched cruise missiles, which have a range of about 3,000km and deploys 200kt warheads.
Fitted with Novator SS-N-15 Starfish and the Novator SS-N-16 Stallion anti-ship missiles, the submarines of the class can cruise at a maximum submerged speed of 33k and operate at depths of 600m.
In January 2004, the Indian Navy signed a $650m agreement with Russia to lease an Akula II submarine, the SSN Nerpa, for ten years, in a move to enhance the country's defence capabilities.
Commissioned by the Russian Navy in December 2009, the SSN Nerpa was renamed INS Chakra and was re-commissioned by the Indian Navy in April 2012.
The Bars-class project 971 submarines, also known as Akula-class submarines, will form the core of the Russian nuclear attack submarines fleet, along with Project 885 Yasen/Graney-class nuclear-powered submarines.
Image: Russian Navy's Akula-class submarine underway at sea. Photo: file image.