Indo-Russian Cruise Missile BrahMos aims to create $13 billion Export

BrahMos, the missile joint venture between India and Russia, isinviting a lot of global attention, particularly from South America,Middle East, Asia Pacific and African regions, a senior defenceofficial told ET. With this newfangled demand BrahMos aims at creatingan export order of $13 billion for the indigenously-built Brah-Mos.

Although there are over 60,000 cruise missiles worldwide, most ofthem are pretty archaic, having been developed in the 1970s. Thisexplains the reason for the spurt in demand for the new BrahMos fleet, say defence officials.The supersonic cruise missile system has also caughtthe attention of many countries such as Brazil, South Africa and Chilebecause it has been developed at a low-cost budget of $300 million.

Named after India’s Brahmaputra river and Russia’s Moskva river, theBrahmos missile can travel at nearly three times the speed of sound andhit targets up to 300 km away. It can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land. “It is the best missile — simple but universal.

We are working along with the state-owned Defence Research andDevelopment Organisation (DRDO) labs and PSUs such as DRDL and BEML.Private players such as Larsen & Toubro, Godrej are alsocollaborating for the project”, Alexander B Maksichev, deputy generaldirector at NPO Mashinostroyenia and managing director at Brah-MosAerospace, told ET. “BrahMos is moving in a new direction with airborne missile version,” he added.

“The negotiations and ground work to export these missiles to othercountries have started. The export of BrahMos will start once therequirements of Indian defence are met”, said a senior defence officialspeaking on condition of anonymity. On its part, India has alreadyplaced $3 billion of missile orders including ground systems andreceivers with BrahMos for next 7-8 years.

The missiles will also be exported to the Russian military, which hasshown interest in the new air-borne version, the defence official said.

The success of the BrahMos model comes at a time when India isconsidering deploying its nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in theNorth East, close to its border with China in an apparent attempt toenhance its military preparedness. The move comes close after therelease of a report by Pentagon, which suggested that China has movedits new advanced long-range CSS-5 missiles close to its border withIndia and developed contingency plans to shift airborne forces to theregion.

BrahMos is capable of carrying conventional as well as nuclearwarheads, with a payload of 200-300 kg. The test of the air-launchedversion of Brah-Mos supersonic cruise missile is expected to take placein 2012, said Dr Apathukatha Sivathanu Pillai chief executive, BrahMosAerospace, during the Bangalore Space Expo 2010. He said the Indian AirForce has chosen the Su-30MKI fighter aircraft as a launch platform forthe BrahMos missile. The IAF has also placed orders for land-to-landattack missiles.

Meanwhile, the Indian Army, which has given orders for long targetmissiles, is also procuring block-two BrahMos missiles for precise andcontrolled attacks on small targets. This will prevent the surroundinginfrastructure from being destroyed. “BrahMos is a landmark projectbecause it was started from scratch in India. We have been developingballistic missiles. But it is a good learning process for Indianscientists to design and develop the cruise missile technology”, saidAjey Lele from the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), aDelhi-based think-tank.

Going forward , a hypersonic version of the missile — BrahMos-II ispresently under development. The missile can touch speeds ranging fromfive to seven times that of sound, making it the fastest cruise missilein the world. Brahmos-II is expected to be ready by 2013-14 and willarm the Project 15B destroyers of the Indian Navy.

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