(Updates with military satellite launch)
NEW DELHI Feb 12 India's project to construct
three nuclear-powered submarines at a southern India naval base
is near completion, officials said on Thursday.
"Things are in the final stage now," A.K. Antony, India's
defence minister, told reporters in the southern city of
"There were bottlenecks earlier, but they are over now," a
defence spokesman quoted him as having said during an airshow.
The project is part of a $2.9 billion plan to build five
submarines, delayed for years due to technical problems.
"All that is behind us and we are on course to complete the
project in a few months and go for trials," a defence spokesman
said in New Delhi.
India's Defence Research and Development Organisation is
also working on submarine-launched ballistic missiles, which
would be fitted into the new submarines, officials added.
The country has plans to lease nuclear-powered submarines from
Russia. It already has fighter aircraft and missiles capable of
carrying nuclear warheads.
India is looking to spend more than $30 billion over the
next five years to modernise its largely Soviet-era arms and is
also trying to strengthen its navy by introducing new weapons
The country is also launching its first military spy
satellite next year, the head of its air force said on
Thursday, as part of India's efforts to expand its space
"It will take place by middle of next year," Air Chief
Marshal Fali Homi Major told reporters in Bangalore.
(Reporting by Bappa Majumdar; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and