India will transfer one of its Russian-made Kilo-class diesel-electric attack submarines to the Myanmar Navy later this year, the Economic Times reported on Tuesday.
The transfer will take place with Russia’s acquiescence and would be the Myanmar Navy’s first submarine when delivered.
INS Sindhuvir, one of the Indian Navy’s Kilos (domestically designated the Sindhughosh-class), will be refitted and transferred to Myanmar. According to the Economic Times, work on the vessel’s modernization is currently underway at the Indian port of Vizag.
The vessel has a submerged tonnage of approximately 3,000 tons. The vessel is 72.6 meters long with a beam measurement of 9.9 meters. It is armed with the Russian 3M-54 Kalibr short-range, subsonic cruise missile, and the Type 53 torpedo.
The report of an Indian submarine transfer to Myanmar comes as the Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar’s Defense Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing is on a bilateral visit to India.
“Myanmar is a key pillar of India’s Act East Policy towards prioritizing relations with its East Asian neighbors. India has steadily increased defense co-operation with Myanmar in recent years,” an Indian Ministry of Defense statement following Min Aung Hlaing’s meetings with top Indian officials.
In May 2017, Myanmar’s Deputy Defense Minister Maj. Gen. Myint Nwe publicly announced that the Myanmar military—also known as the Tatmadaw—was seeking a submarine. He had underscored the Myanmar Navy’s close relationship with the Indian Navy, observing that Tatmadaw naval officers had boarded Indian submarines in 2006 to study their operations.
“Our neighbors have submarines and we want them as well but it will depend on the state budget. The military leadership is considering it,” he said.
Submarines have proliferated in East Asia in recent years. A survey by the Singaporean Ministry of Defense in 2017 suggested that by 2025, the number of submarines in operation in the region could be up to 250 from 200 today.
Of Southeast Asian states, Vietnam has the largest and most active undersea force with six Kilo-class submarines. Singapore also has a notable submarine capability. Indonesia and Malaysia each operate two submarines; Jakarta plans to expand its fleet to eight boats by the mid-2020s.
The Myanmar Navy is based around surface combatants, including five frigates, two corvettes, and several patrol vessels and coastal combatants.
India has recently increased its prominence as a supplier of defense equipment to Myanmar. Earlier this summer, India delivered an initial batch of indigenously built torpedoes for the Myanmar navy; the total contract value is estimated at $37.9 million.