With India determined to develop itself as a hub of defence manufacturing, how it handles the sale of the BrahMos would be an important factor in its potential emergence as a net provider of regional security in the Indo-Pacific.
By: HARSH V. PANT and JAVIN ARYAN
Earlier this month, India and the Philippines signed the “Implementing Arrangement” on defence material and equipment procurement. This agreement lays the groundwork for sales of defence systems, such as the highly anticipated export of the BrahMos cruise missile, through the government-to-government route. As the Philippines’ Secretary of National Defence publicly acknowledges the archipelagic country’s intention of purchasing the missile, and the Navy Chief calls it the ideal weapon, a potential export deal moves one step closer to reality. This deal will be of great significance for multiple reasons, and even though the procurement process is progressing steadfastly, there still lie many challenges ahead.
Research and development of the BrahMos cruise missile systems began in the late 1990s. Manufactured by BrahMos Aerospace Limited, a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya (NPOM), this is the first supersonic cruise missile to enter service. Capable of flying at a speed of Mach 2.8 (almost three times the speed of sound), it has a range of at least 290 km.
Traveling with such velocity means that it would be difficult for air defence systems utilising surface-to-air missiles to intercept the BrahMos while making it easier for it to target and neutralise advanced fighter jets like the Chinese J20 moving at less than Mach 2 speeds. Even so, efforts to increase the speed and range of the missile in its next iterations are underway, with a goal of achieving hypersonic speeds (at or above Mach 5) and a maximum range of 1,500 km. India gaining membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in 2016 has played a major role in the development of these capabilities.
Traveling with such velocity means that it would be difficult for air defence systems utilising surface-to-air missiles to intercept the BrahMos while making it easier for it to target and neutralise advanced fighter jets like the Chinese J20 moving at less than Mach 2 speeds.
Early naval and land variants of the BrahMos were inducted into service by the Indian Navy in 2005 and the Indian Army in 2007. Subsequently, an air-launched variant was successfully tested in November 2017 by the Indian Air Force from its Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jet, giving the missile a dominating presence in all three domains.