NEW DELHI — Indian navy personnel will take command of the country's first nuclear-powered submarine in two decades on Monday after collecting the vessel near the Russian port of Vladivostok, an official said.
Moscow offered the Russian-built Chakra II to the Indian navy on a 10-year lease, a move that has angered India's archrival and nuclear-armed neighbor Pakistan.
The Akula II class craft is the first nuclear-powered submarine to be operated by India since it decommissioned its last Soviet-built vessel in 1991.
"INS Chakra II is being handed over to Indian personnel in the east, near Vladivostok," a senior navy source in India said, asking not to be named because Russia will formally announce the transfer.
The 8,140-ton submarine, capable of firing a range of torpedoes, as well as nuclear-tipped Granat cruise missiles, will sail under the Indian flag to its base at Visakhapatnam in the Bay of Bengal.
India is currently completing the development of its own Arihant-class nuclear-powered ballistic submarines and the Russian delivery is expected to help crews train for the domestic boat's introduction into service next year.
The submarine was due to be handed over to India in 2009 but has been hit by various problems during testing.
During trials in the Sea of Japan in November 2008, 20 sailors were killed when a fire extinguisher released a deadly chemical that had been accidentally loaded into the system.
The INS Chakra was commissioned by India in 2004 and has seen the South Asian nation pay $650 million in construction costs.
Earlier newspaper reports in India said New Delhi may end up paying as much as $900 million under the terms of the deal. Russia's RIA Novosti news agency valued the contract at $920 million.
Russia supplies 70 percent of India's military hardware, but New Delhi has been unhappy about delays to arms orders from Moscow and has looked to other suppliers, including Israel and the U.S., in recent years.