India’s military chiefs will be visiting Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia in the coming months to expand military ties, including missile exports, as New Delhi steps up its profile in South-east Asia to counter China’s weight across the region.
After years of hesitation, India has offered the Russia-Indian BrahMos cruise missile to Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. As the world’s fastest cruise anti-ship missile that can be fired from ships, submarines, land as well as from the air, the BrahMos is highly coveted by several countries trying to build up naval muscle, especially in the disputed South China Sea.
The Indo-Russian joint venture last week (June 25) tested cruise missiles on Russian Su-30 Flanker C multi-role fighter aircraft with the Indian Air Force, for which the ground tests are already done. “We expect that those friendly nations with whom neither India nor Russia have any conflict would be keen on buying these missiles,” highly placed sources told FE.
The demonstration flight, carried out at state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Nasik, involved carriage of BrahMos weapon on the long-range Sukhoi-30 fighter, giving a major fillip to the BrahMos air-launched flight test programme.
With the successful flight, the BrahMos air version programme now inches closer towards actual test firing when a 2.5-tonne BrahMos air-to- ground missile will be fired from Sukhoi-30 in the coming months.
The flight trial has been keenly observed by several nations who are looking towards acquiring a lethal weapon system for the Russian-made warplanes.
As reported by FE in May, both India and Russia have agreed `in principle’ to export the world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile, BrahMos, to countries including the UAE, Vietnam, South Africa and the south American country Chile.
“Since Russia is the partner country in the BrahMos joint venture, with its consent discussions with several other countries including Philippines, South Korea, Algeria, Greece, Malaysia, Thailand, Egypt, Singapore, Venezuela and Bulgaria have now been taken to the next level,” a MoD source had revealed.
As part of government’s ‘Act East Policy’, India has increased its engagement with the Asean countries, both in maritime security and military exercises as well as trade and investments.
In case of Vietnam, China has expressed its reservations against India’s policies to supply weapons. In the South China Sea, China and Vietnam are locked in a conflict over maritime boundaries. However defence minister Manohar Parrikar had recently visited Vietnam and Singapore and according to sources the discussions also included export of BrahMos missiles.