|Published: November 2016|
For nearly 15 years now, the New Delhi-headquartered BrahMos Aerospace is participating in defence exhibitions around the world, apparently hoping to export the world’s first supersonic missile to at least some “friendly”countries.
That is, countries which are acceptable to both India and Russia, the two partners in this strategic joint venture. There is a list of a dozen countries that has broadly been agreed to also between the foreign ministries in New Delhi and Moscow, but then of course, there is periodic rethinking of diplomatic and military repercussions in the regions they are sold in.
The range of the BrahMos is limited to 290 km with a 500 kilo payload in accordance with the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), to which earlier Russia was a signatory and now India also is. At least one country, I understand from diplomatic sources, wants a little higher range, and then of course, there are issues over pricing, servicing and maintenance for this well-tested (in trials) One-Shot-Kill missile.
Besides the defence shows in India like Defexpo and Aero India, I have seen BrahMos’ persistent presence at IDEX in Abu Dhabi, since I think, 2003. BrahMos was there at the recent Euronaval in Paris in October, drawing attention from many, particularly the Chinese whose uniformed officers took photo shots of its models from every angle. China is known for reverse engineering, and pictures and models, which are usually to scale, should be helpful to anybody to build upon something similar.
Defence shows are great places to learn about emerging technologies, and who is doing what. In fact, big companies want official trade visitors in the hope of possible sales while media, always hungry for news, acts as the catalyst to spread the (generally) good word about them. Information is reasonably well open and available, and if one is a potential buyer, then he or she is treated with respect.
Many companies were selling an impressive array of missiles, of higher ranges and higher payload, which could be fired from ships, submarines, land and aircraft.
BrahMos, which has already conducted several successful tests from land and ships, is on the anvil of developing air-launched versions for IAF’s Su-30 MKI aircraft.
An interesting presentation at its stand was the model of a Russian Amur class nuclear powered submarine, which could be fitted with the BrahMos if the Indian Navy leases it from Russia. Talks in regard are on.
Is there a comparison between the BrahMos and other missiles! Although an armed force needs different missiles for different requirements, there is an element of finality about the BrahMos. It is The Only supersonic cruise missile in the world.
Gulshan Rai Luthra