India expected to significantly enhance its long-range strike abilities with the BrahMos cruise missile, jointly developed by New Delhi and Moscow. The supersonic missile -- which derives its name from the Brahmaputra and Moscow rivers in both countries - has a range of almost 300 km and is designed for use with land, sea and aerial platforms. BrahMos is based on the earlier Russian design for the SS-N-26 (3M55 Oniks) cruise missile. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is reportedly considering the possibility of fitting the BrahMos on its Su-30 combat jets.
The BrahMos missile is a two-stage vehicle that has a solid propellant booster and a liquid (propellant) ram jet system. The missile can fly at 2.8 times the speed of sound. It can carry warheads up to 200 kg in weight and has a maximum range of 290 km. The missile is capable of being launched from multiple platforms based on land, sea, sub-sea and air. The modular design of the missile and its capability of being launched at different orientations enables it to be integrated with a wide spectrum of platforms like warships, submarines, different types of aircraft, mobile autonomous launchers and silos.
The BrahMos, a derivative of the Yakhont, was developed by a joint venture between India's Defence Research and Development Organisation and Russia's NPO Mashinostroyenia. The BrahMos missile is a product of an Indo-Russian joint venture known by the same name. BrahMos has evolved out of the joint efforts of Indian and Russian scientists, under the joint venture offset BrahMos Aerospace, DRDO and NPO Mashinostroyenia of Russia along with a consortium of Indian and Russian industries. Registered in December 1995, the company was set up as a result of an inter-governmental agreement between Russia and India, eventually signed in February 1998, to design, develop, produce and market a supersonic cruise missile jointly. The company came into existence consequent to an inter-Governmental agreement signed between the two countries in February 1998. India and Russia planned to begin the induction of the jointly-developed BrahMos supersonic cruise missile into their armed forces by the end of 2003. However, according to some reports military officials believed it is several years away from induction into the navy or the air force.
The anti-ship cruise missile is a crucial step forward in India's defence efforts. This technological achievement places India among a small group of countries to acquire the capacity of producing cruise missiles. What, however, makes the jointly produced cruise missile distinguishable from others is that it travels at a supersonic speed i.e. more than twice the speed of sound. Almost all other contemporary anti-ship missiles fly at subsonic speed. Its other distinguishing feature is that the Indo-Russian cruise missile is a state-of-the-art product.
Its unmatchable speed is its high point. The supersonic speed imparts it a greater strike-power as well. Possessing stealth characteristics, the 6.9-meter cruise missile weighing three tons has a range of 280 km. Its another outstanding feature is that it is highly accurate and can be guided to its target mainly with the help of an onboard computer. This has been established by the test-flight. The computer and the guidance system have been designed by India whereas Russia has provided the propulsion system.
Test flights of the PJ-10 occurred on 12 June 2001, 28 April 2002, with a third test expected in June 2002. The test-firing of the cruise missile which took place in the middle of June 2001 was described as an unqualified success. The Brahmos recorded its performance as having met technical parameters, both in terms of the flight range and hitting accuracy. Defence Minister Jaswant Singh who was present at Chandipur along with Indian and Russian scientists and technologists described the launch as a "landmark in technology partnership". The Chandipur launch was the first in a series of test-flights of the cruise missile planned to demonstrate the capabilities of the system. A series of other test-flights will take place before the missile is simultaneously inducted into the Indian and Russian arsenals. It will also be sold to third countries in due course of time.
One of its special features is that this essentially anti-ship missile can be launched from ground, ship, submarine or air. Defence analysts underline that the eventual addition of this strategic missile is a logical follow-up of the goal set as per the country 's nuclear philosophy. Stated in plain terms, it is essential for the fulfilment of India's minimum nuclear deterrent profile as outlined in the draft nuclear doctrine prepared by the Vajpayee Government. The acquisition of the cruise missile which can be tipped with a nuclear warhead has obvious implications for our nuclear weapons' delivery system.
In order to avoid controversy, both India and Russia have taken care to ensure that the production of the cruise missile did not violate obligations under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) or any of the international agreements related to proliferation. That is why the missile range is well within the 300 km limit stipulated under the MTCR.
Both India and Russia welcomed the joint development of the supersonic cruise missile with great exuberance. Elated at the successful test flight from Chandipur, the state-owned Russian collaborating company, Mashinostroyenie, put the cruise missile on display at the Moscow annual air show. Mashinostroyenie designed the missile and its propulsion system, leaving the all-important software and the guidance system to its Indian counterpart- the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of the Defence Ministry.
New Delhi described the missile as an "outstanding example of Indo-Russian joint endeavour". The President, Mr KR Narayanan and Prime Minister Mr Vajpayee termed it as a symbol of defence cooperation between the two countries.The development of the cruise missile takes their decades-old defence cooperation and the revived post-Cold War strategic partnership to a new high. It may be recalled that during the Russian President, Mr Vladimir Putin's visit to India in October 2000, a Joint Declaration of Strategic Partnership was issued. During the Defence Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh's visit to Moscow a few days before the Chandipur launch, this strategic relationship was further reinforced. On these two occasions, the two countries signed a series of agreements on the acquisition of sophisticated weapon system and for a joint production of some of them including missiles.
The newly developed cruise missile is more than a match to similar anti-ship missiles available with China. The latter has mounted Moskit anti-ship missiles on its recently acquired Soverameny-class warships. Beijing is also planning to mount its aerial version of the Moskit on its SU-27 planes. The Indian cruise missile with its supersonic speed will be able to check movements by the Chinese warships, especially in the Indian Ocean area. Besides, its extraordinary accuracy and speed increases the range of its targets.
The take over of KELTEC by BrahMos in 2007 was seen as a major turning point in the industrial process of Kerala as it was likely to attract Rs 1000 crore investments in different areas in the next four years. The Brahmos Aerospace Corporation signed an agreement with the Kerala Government for KELTEC's takeover on December 05, 2007. The handing over ceremony was on December 31, 2007 at Thiruvananthapuram. The Brahmos-KELTEC merger is the result of the state government's policy of strategic merger or tie-ups with the Central public sector undertakings. The unit, Brahoms Aerospace (Trivandrum) LTD, the first defence production unit in the state, would be turned into a major centre for production of components and integration of the supersonic missile system. "The full-fledged Brahmos complex will be ready for production and assembling in two to three years time," Brahmos Aerospace Corporation CEO A Sivathanu Pillai said. "A lot of orders have come for the missile both from Army and Navy, and with an objective to enlarge its production capacity the BrahMos aerospace have decided to have a second production unit at Thiruvananthapuram, other than in Hyderabad," Pillai said.
In a landmark development in the defence history of the country, the President and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Mr A P J Abdul Kalam handed over a replica of the mobile autonomous launchers (MAL) of the BrahMos land system to the Chief of Army Staff, Gen J J Singh, symbolising the commencement of delivery of the supersonic cruise missiles to the Indian Army, at a function in New Delhi on 21 June 2007. The missile is launched from a transport launch canister (TLC) which also acts as storage and transport container. The Government had approved induction of three regiments of BrahMos missile system in the Indian Army out of which the Army had initially placed the requirement for one regiment. The delivery of this system was to start from July 2008. However, for an early operationalisation of the missile system, the delivery of one mobile command post and two mobile autonomous launchers had been advanced by one year.
Indian ground forces successfully test-fired a BrahMos supersonic cruise missile in August 2011, the 25th Brahmos launch for the Indian Army. The test met all the mission parameters. Sea- and ground-launched versions have been successfully tested and put into service with the Indian Army and Navy. The eventual plan of armed forces is to have nuclear-tipped land-attack cruise missiles with strike ranges in excess of 1,500 km.
The block II version with target discrimination capability and block III version with steep diving capability even at supersonic speeds were developed by DRDO. President A P J Abdul Kalam said on 21 June 2007 that the time had come for BrahMos Aerospace to work on Mark-II version of BrahMos so that it remains the market leader in hyper-sonic cruise missiles. "In the emerging network centric warfare scenario, the fast deployment of hypersonic missile systems will be necessary to maintain our force level supremacy. I visualise long range hypersonic cruise missiles not only delivering pay-loads but also returning to the base after the mission, leading to re-usable class of cruise missiles within the next decade. It is time that the three services work with the team of BrahMos Aerospace to evolve the QR for such a system in a time-bound manner", he said.
In the first test on 20 January 2008, the BrahMos Block II missile failed to hit its target due to glitches in the homing device of the missile. In the 04 March 2008 test, when the missile hit its target from a distance of around 90 kms at the Pokharan test firing range. For the second time in a month, the Block II version of the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile with a striking range of 290 km, successfully hit its target during a test at the Pokhran firing range on Sunday 29 March 2008. "The missile was successfully launched at 1115 hours in the morning and in the next two-and-a-half minutes, it hit the bull's eye in the Pokhran firing range in Rajasthan," an official said. This was the third test-firing of the latest Block II version of the missile. Officials said the development phase of the Block II version of the missile was over and it was ready for induction in the Army.
In March 2009 the Army gave the green signal for the induction of the new version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, which had been developed to act as a precision-strike weapon in a "clustered urban environment". Army vice-chief Lt-Gen Noble Thamburaj said the third test of the 290-km-range BrahMos Block-II missile, the first test of which had failed on January 20, at Pokhran on Sunday had been analyzed to be "extremely successful".
Both Army and Navy are inducting the BrahMos Block-I missiles. While Army had ordered two BrahMos regiments in the first phase at a cost of Rs 8,352 crore, with 134 missiles, 10 road-mobile autonomous launchers on 12×12 Tatra vehicles and four mobile command posts, the Navy had ordered 49 BrahMos firing units at a cost of Rs 711 crore. As of early 2008 DRDO officials claimed that BrahMos would be able to start deliveries of the 240 missiles ordered by the Army in two years as per the original schedule. The Army had already inducted one regiment of the Block I version of the missile.
The Russian-Indian joint venture Brahmos Aerospace will start developing a new Brahmos-2 hypersonic missile this year, Brahmos Aerospace Director Alexander Maksichev said on 12 June 2011. "During the year, we are planning to start work on a hypersonic missile, Brahmos-2. This will be a completely new missile,' he said on the sidelines of a conference on the 10th anniversary of the first launch of the Brahmos missile. Maksichev said the JV intended to start the tests of airborne Brahmos missiles next year. "We expect to be able to start the tests of Brahmos missiles launched from aircraft. Various types of aircraft, including Su-30 MKI fighters, are expected to be armed with these missiles," he said.
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