SOURCE: THE HINDU
Even as the most formidable anti-ship cruise missile – the BrahMos missile – was test fired on Thursday with an indigenous seeker at a Pokhran test range in Rajasthan, several South-East Asian countries, including Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, apart from Vietnam, have evinced interest in purchasing the missile.
‘A boost to security’
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took to Twitter and congratulated the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the successful test flight of the precision strike weapon, adding that it would be a further boost to the country’s security.
The missile demonstrated its supreme operational capability with the new indigenous seeker, incorporated in this trial run and developed jointly by BrahMos Aerospace and DRDO. With an aim to bolster the in-house manufacturing capability of the missile and to propel indigenisation, both companies have teamed up with the private sector.
Sources indicate the next step for the BrahMos is exports, and added that an export order could significantly upgrade military capabilities of any country purchasing the missile, even as it would raise concerns in China.
“An export order is high on the agenda, especially since China has reportedly sold a high-tech missile tracking system to Pakistan which will arm the neighbour’s military development,” the sources said. Both Pakistan and China are also developing Air Launched Cruise Missiles.
Commenting on the geopolitical situation, the sources said: “It [geopolitical situation] is tense and recently peaked between Vietnam and Beijing when the People’s Liberation Army threatened to attack Vietnamese posts in the South China Sea if a joint venture between Hanoi and Madrid to explore oil fields was not called off. Though India has very friendly relations with Vietnam, it is one among many countries to have shown an interest in the BrahMos,” said an executive.
Testing of variants
Hailed as the fastest cruise missile in the world, the BrahMos can be launched from both land and ship. The submarine-launch variants are still in their testing phase. An official pointed out that “indigenisation and optimisation were key” and that over the next 4-5 years, the BrahMos missile could achieve Mach 5 speed from the current Mach 2.8 by optimising materials and engines of the missile.
Godrej Aerospace, which recently delivered the 100th set of airframe assemblies for use in the missile systems, is one of the private companies that the DRDO is relying on in its quest to increase localisation. Speaking about the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), a Defence Ministry programme for the research and development of a comprehensive range of missiles, Jamshyd Godrej, Chairman and Managing Director of Godrej & Boyce, told BusinessLine that it was “a cherished dream of former President APJ Abdul Kalam, who spoke often about the export of the BrahMos missile. After seeing the US-made Tomahawk’s success, India decided to acquire a precision attack cruise missile”.
Though India expressed interest in selling the missile to Vietnam in 2011, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia werealso keen on acquiring the missile at the Singapore Airshow held this February, and several other countries are looking at its high export potential.