Indian Navy To Get 38 More BrahMos Missiles; Here's How The Weapon Is Evolving With Greater Range And Indigenisation
BrahMos has evolved into a ‘brahmastra’, becoming a critical component of the offensive firepower of the Indian armed forces.
The Indian Navy is set to receive 38 additional BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles for its frontline warships.
The Defence Ministry signed a Rs 1,700 crore deal with BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited, a joint venture between India and Russia, on Thursday (22 September) for the acquisition of the missiles.
In a statement put out after the deal was signed, the Defence Ministry said that the missiles will be used in both anti-ship and land attack roles.
In the last 20 years, BrahMos has evolved, as its makers say, into a ‘brahmastra’, becoming a critical component of the offensive firepower of the Indian armed forces.
It has given the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy a precision strike option and the ability to hit enemy targets from stand-off ranges.
Over the years, the Defence Ministry has signed deals worth a total of Rs 38,000 crore for the missile.
After India became a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime, BrahMos Aerospace started working on increasing the range of the missile.
A new version of the missile, called BrahMos-ER (extended range), was tested in 2017.
In May this year, the missile was test-fired from a Su-30 MKI fighter of the Indian Air Force. While the missile has been tested by the air force in the past, this was different — it was the first time the new 450-km range BrahMos missile was tested from air.
With this test, "IAF has achieved the capability to carry out precision strikes from Su-30MKI aircraft against a land/sea target over very long ranges," the Ministry of Defence has said.
Su-30MKI, equipped with the new extended range version of BrahMos, can hit warships and vessels entering the Indian Ocean through the various choke points in the east, including the Malacca Strait, a narrow maritime passage between Malaysia and Singapore that links the Indian Ocean with the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.
"This is the first time the new BrahMos missile with a strike range of over 450 km (original range 290 km) has been tested from the air. The Sukhoi, with a combat radius of almost 1,500-km without mid-air refueling, combined with the 450-km range BrahMos missile is a formidable weapons package," the Times of India quoted a senior official as saying.
This can prove to be a headache for China — accentuating its 'Malacca Dilemma' — if the conflict unfolding in the Himalayas escalates and expands to the maritime domain.
A large part of China's trade, including nearly 80 per cent of its oil supplies, passes through this narrow 500 nautical-mile waterway.
The fighters can also hit targets in the southern and western Indian Ocean.
The IAF has already deployed No 222 Squadron 'Tigersharks', which operates BrahMos-armed Su-30MIKs, at the Thanjavur Air Force station in Tamil Nadu.
As part of a test in 2020, a Su-30 MKI fighter took off with the air-launched version of the missile from a base in Punjab and hit a target with it in the Indian Ocean.
To increase its range, the fighter had been refuelled mid-air during its journey to the point from which the missile was to be launched.
A large part of the missile has also been indigenised. By 2018, the missile had reached 65 per cent indigenisation by value from 10-12 per cent in early years.
In March 2018, BrahMos was tested with an indigenous seeker developed by BrahMos Aerospace in partnership with the Defence Research and Development Laboratory and made by Electronic Corporation of India Limited. Two private companies were also part of the development of the indigenous seeker.
High Energy Materials Research Laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation is developing a special solid propellant to be used as fuel by BrahMos.
Work on the programme was started in view of Russia's reluctance to share the technology for solid propellants with India.
The indigenous seeker being developed for BrahMos is likely to be ready within a year, the chief executive officer and managing director of BrahMos Aerospace, Sudhir Mishra, had said in an interview last year.
The missile has been tested with an India seeker, Mishra had said, adding that the indigenous effort has already been successful to a "great extent".
"We have conducted two tests, one on land and the other one to target a ship, and we have been successful to a great extent," Mishra said.
In January this year, India tested an improved version of the BrahMos, which had around 70 per cent indigenous content.
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