The Indian Navy’s maritime battlefield has of late been revolutionised by induction of the PJ-10 BrahMos, the world’s first operational supersonic anti-ship cruise missile. The Navy’s prime strike weapon, the versatile two-stage BrahMos, with a solid propellant booster and a liquid propellant ramjet system, is the result of an Indo-Russian agreement of 1998, its name representing the two great rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva. The joint venture firm, BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited (BAPL), is headquartered in New Delhi with its production facilities in Hyderabad. The Indian Navy began inducting first versions of BrahMos in its frontline warships from 2005 and the missile will be deployed on all its platforms that can bear it. Among those it is deployed on are two of the five 3,950-tonne Rajput-class (Kashin II) guided missile destroyers (DDGs), INS Rajput and INS Ranvir, the six follow-on 3,840-tonne Talwar-class guided missile frigates (FFGs), and most recently, the three Kolkata-class Project-15A DDGs. It will also equip the four Project-15B Visakhapatnam-class DDGs. The armed forces have a large variety of missiles. The present inventory is planned to be replaced with new generation missilesystems in next 10 to 15 years. Surface-to-Surface Tactical Missiles (SSM) are held by the Navy. These are categorized as Ship Launched Missiles and Submarine Launched missiles. BRAHMOS is a supersonic cruise missile and can be used against ship and land targets. It has a range of upto 300 kms. The missile is uniquely configured for installing in ships, submarines & aircraft and on ground vehicles.
On 21 March 2013 the country for the first time tested the 290-km range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from underwater. The submarine-launched version of the missile was “successfully" tested from an underwater pontoon off Visakhapatnam around 2.10pm. BrahMos chief A Sivathanu Pillai promptly declared, “The missile is fully ready for fitment in the Project-75 India submarines of the Indian Navy in vertical launch configuration, which will make the platform (submarine) one of the most powerful weapon platform in the world."
The canisterised missile, installed in a modular launcher in the pressure hull of a submarine, is launched vertically from underwater depths of 40 to 50 meters. Defence minister A K Antony also chipped in soon after by saying, “It’s a wonderful achievement and proud moment for India." DRDO chief V K Saraswat said it was “a significant step towards boosting India’s military strength". Other defence scientists proclaimed this was “first time any supersonic cruise missile has been launched vertically from a submerged platform".
Amid all these gushing accolades, they however forgot to mention one critical fact: the Project-75 India submarines was nothing but a mere pipedream at present. With even the initial global tender or RFP (request for proposal) for them yet to be floated, the Navy will not get the first such submarine anytime before 2023. BrahMos missile cannot be fitted on the Navy’s existing fleet of 10 ageing Russian Kilo-class and four German HDW submarines, half of them in any case are fully operational at any given time. Nor can it be deployed on the six French Scorpene submarines being constructed in the Rs 23,562-crore Project-75 underway at Mazagon Docks (MDL) in Mumbai, under which the vessels will now be delivered in the 2015-2020 timeframe three years behind schedule.
India and Russia aim to extend the range of their jointly developed BrahMos (PJ-10) supersonic cruise missile from 400 km to 500 km, an official from the joint venture (JV) responsible for producing the weapon system told Jane’s on 10 April 2019. “We have already demonstrated the missile’s capability to engage targets at a distance of more than 400 km, and work on further extending the range, possibly to 500 km, is now being conducted. The flight speed of the weapon will also be increased,” said the official from BrahMos Aerospace, a JV between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM).
The proposed extended-range (ER) BrahMos variant has been fitted with a Russian-designed seeker and is expected to be capable of being fired from land and sea-based platforms, said the official. The new variant of the radar-guided missile will carry the same amount of fuel as the earlier versions, but will be fitted with an enhanced computer-controlled injector system that will better regulate the flow of fuel into the engine’s combustor, thus greatly improving efficiency.
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