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Demand For Naval Version:EXPORT EDGE TO BRAHMOS MISSILE, by Radhakrishna Rao,19 March 2007 Print E-mail

Events And Issues

New Delhi, 19 March 2007

Demand For Naval Version


By Radhakrishna Rao

Brahmos Aerospace is vigorously working towards promoting the sale of the joint Indo-Russian supersonic cruise missile to “friendly countries”. In fact, Dr. A. Sivathanu Pillai, Chief Executive Officer of the Brahmos Aerospace, is quite optimistic about this lethal missile doing well in the global market. He said that the missile would be potential after both India and Russia decide the issue at the Government level.

But, as pointed out by Pillai, the decision on the selling of this missile would be taken only after carefully weighing the security concerns and strategic interests of the country. Pillai also said that both India and Russia have jointly identified certain countries where the capacity of the missile would be demonstrated. To begin with, it is planned to market only the original sea launched version of the Brahmos.

Interestingly, Defence Minister A.K. Antony has stated that Brahmos is very much in the export market.  Malaysia is said to be one of the countries to which the missile could be exported.  Reports appearing in the Russian media early this year had suggested that Russian defence companies had expressed their concern that the Brahmos marketing campaign would eventually edge them out of the global market. For Russian anti-ship missiles are in use in the naval forces of a number of countries.

However, following the decision India and Russia took at the Government level early this year, it was decided to give a thrust to the marketing of Brahmos. Against this backdrop, the production rate of Brahmos would be increased to nearly one hundred a year. Many Indian private sector industrial units make substantial contribution to the production of Brahmos through the supply of specific components and hardware.

Dr. G. Lenov Alexander, First Deputy Director General of NPO Mashinostroyenia of Russia which in association with India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed Brahmos says: “We expect a bigger market than we analysed initially. We will export in the near future to a few friendly countries.  We expect a total of 1,000 missiles to meet the demand of India, Russia and friendly countries in the foreseeable future. Demand for anti-ship missile is high”.

The development of Brahmos was taken by India’s DRDO in association with NPO Mashinostroyenia because the highly ambitious Integrated Guided Missile Development Progarmme (IGMDP) initiated in 1983 did not include on its agenda an anti-ship missile since the technology for such a missile was complex and difficult to master.

Indian defence experts have described Brahmos as a veritable “Brahmastra”.  Till now, the Indian Navy has been dependent on P-15 and P-20 anti-ship missiles whose decade- old technology leaves much to be desired.  India already has a very large inventory of cruise missiles of varying description serving a number of naval ships.

Strategic analysts hold the view that long firing range of Brahmos provides high combat effectiveness in a naval warfare and the enemy ships could be destroyed even before they approach the distance which allows them use of arms. A few Brahmos have already been inducted into the Indian naval vessels. Similarly, induction process of the land launched version of Brahmos is proceeding apace.

Being versatile, Brahmos can be launched from a variety of platforms including fixed and mobile platforms on land, surface ships, submarines and aircraft. Further, it could be aimed at multiple targets and can be launched vertical or in inclined positions. Brahmos with a range of 290 km has a maximum velocity of 2.8 Mach and can carry conventional warhead weighing upto 300 kg. Significantly, a salvo of nine miles can penetrate and destroy enemy ships, consisting of three frigates with modern anti-missile defence system.

Brahmos is claimed to be three times faster and smarter than the French “Exocet” missile. It is also claimed to be three times faster than Tomahawk and has more than double its range. In terms of technological superiority, it is said to be way ahead of the Harpoon anti-ship missile in service with the Chinese Navy. Ideally suited for anti-ship operations, the Brahmos could help the Indian Navy in a big way in coping with the mounting maritime security threats.

The anti-ship version of the Brahmos is required to hit a moving target and as such needs to carry out mid-course corrections to ensure accuracy.  The two stage solid fuel-driven Brahmos equipped with liquid fuel stuffed ramjet makes for a very low radar signature, thus making the task of enemies to initiate counter measures a tough and challenging preposition.

Brahmos has been tested for severe climatic conditions such as extreme hot desert conditions and stormy monsoon conditions confirming its all weather capability. Meanwhile, the Brahmos Aerospace has taken up a project to develop a variant of Brahmos with a capability to be launched on submarines. In this context, Brahmos Aerospace has asked the Indian Navy to spare one of its Russian made Kiloclass submarines as a test platform for the new missile.

This missile is concurrently being configured for Russia’s Amur class submarines. Identical to the original ship launched version of the missile, the submarine launched Brahmos will be equipped with a 7.65 metre thick cylindrical module to the submarine structure to house the missile and fire control system.

Also under development is an air-launched version of Brahmos weighing 2.5 tonnes as against the 3-tonne sea-launched and land-launched versions. Dr. Pillai said that decks have been cleared for equipping SU-30 MKI combat aircraft with this deadly missile.

Interestingly, after a detailed study, it has been decided to equip SU-30 MKI with Brahmos without bringing about any modifications in the structure of the aircraft.  Dr. Pillai drove home the point that after evaluating various aspects of the aircraft, it was decided to integrate two Brahmos missile into the underbelly of current year. As it is, the air launched version of Brahmos has shorter boosters, stabilized finds and new nose caps.

Dr. Pillai has also revealed that it is planned to design and develop hypersonic missile capable of moving at a speed of 5-7 Mach as against 2.8 Mach of the Brahmos missile. However, the hypersonic missile project is still in a very conceptual stage and definition studies are yet to be completed. It will feature a new engine and totally distinct propulsion system. The Brahmos Aerospace has already set up a team to study the parameters of a parallel programme to create novel technologies, over and above the missile’s current potentials.---INFA

(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

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