India has the world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile, BrahMos, which a number of countries want to buy. However, a lack of clarity in the defence exports policy means that it has not yet been sold.
BrahMos is a short-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land. It is a joint venture between Russia’s NPO Mashinostroeyenia and the Defence Research and Development Organisation of India. They have formed BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited to make the missile.
The name BrahMos is a portmanteau formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.
Sources told FE that despite the Indian government receiving proposals for BrahMos from countries as diverse as Vietnam to Chile, discussions are not moving to the next level.
The missile system has caught the attention of a number of countries in the Latin America such as Argentina, Venezuela, Chile and Brazil, besides South Africa, as it has been developed at a low budget of $300 million.
India’s ambassador to Chile, Debraj Pradhan, recently told FE, “The Chilean armed forces are interested in buying the BrahMos missile. There have been active discussions between the two sides but the Chilean side is yet to decide on the version it is looking to procure.”
“There is tremendous opportunity for Indian defence companies to participate in modernisation of the Chilean armed forces. Chiefs of the armed forces from both sides talked about exploiting the potential in shipbuilding, radar systems, submarines and joint training,” he said.
Several Latin American countries have been in talks with officials from BrahMos and expressed interest in mobile autonomous launchers for coastal defence batteries, ship-based weapons complex for submarines and frigates.
India’s eagerness to export homemade items has been more pronounced after the ‘Make in India’ call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also pitches for export of defence items to friendly countries.
The agreement between India and Russia for development of the advanced BrahMos system allows the use of the missile in both countries’ armed forces and export to other friendly countries. Owing to this, countries from Latin America and southeast Asia have expressed their interest for the missile system.
Though there have been demands and several expressions of intent, the missile has not actually been delivered to any third country. In the 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. India and China have boundary differences too.
A new and advanced version of BrahMos is being developed. It will be equipped with a compact engine that can reach speed of Mach 3.3. Having range of 300 km, the missile will have capacity to carry a payload of 300 kg.
With weight of 1.4-1.6 tonne and length of 6 metre, the BrahMos-NG (next generation) will be a breakthrough, meeting requirements of both the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force.
BrahMos is expanding production capacity to meet expected demand for thousands of missiles. “Our second manufacturing facility is ready and additional facilities are coming up,” Praveen Pathak, general manager for market promotion and exports, said.