Wednesday, September 1, 2010
BrahMos aims to create $13 billion order book
Brahmos, the missile joint venture between India and Russia, is inviting a lot of global attention, particularly from South America, Middle East, Asia Pacific and African regions, a senior defence official told ET. With this newfangled demand BrahMos aims at creating an order book of $13 billion for the indigenously-built Brah-Mos.
Although there are over 60,000 cruise missiles worldwide, most of them are pretty archaic, having been developed in the 1970s. This explains the reason for the spurt in demand for the new BrahMos fleet, say defence officials.The supersonic cruise missile system has also caught the attention of many countries such as Brazil, South Africa and Chile because it has been developed at a low-cost budget of $300 million.
Named after India’s Brahmaputra river and Russia’s Moskva river, the Brahmos missile can travel at nearly three times the speed of sound and hit targets up to 300 km away. It can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land. “It is the best missile — simple but universal. We are working along with the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) labs and PSUs such as DRDL and BEML. Private players such as Larsen & Toubro, Godrej are also collaborating for the project Alexander B Maksichev, deputy general director at NPO Mashinostroyenia and managing director at Brah-Mos Aerospace, told ET. “BrahMos is moving in a new direction with airborne missile version,” he added.
“The negotiations and ground work to export these missiles to other countries have started. The export of BrahMos will start once the requirements of Indian defence are met”, said a senior defence official speaking on condition of anonymity. On its part, India has already placed $3 billion of missile orders including ground systems and receivers with BrahMos for next 7-8 years.
The missiles will also be exported to the Russian military, which has shown interest in the new air-borne version, the defence official said. “The air-launched version includes a missile which can be dropped from a fighter jet. It can then find the target on its own with the help of a computer”, the defence official said.
The success of the BrahMos model comes at a time when India is considering deploying its nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in the North East, close to its border with China in an apparent attempt to enhance its military preparedness. The move comes close after the release of a report by Pentagon, which suggested that China has moved its new advanced long-range CSS-5 missiles close to its border with India and developed contingency plans to shift airborne forces to the region.
BrahMos is capable of carrying conventional as well as nuclear warheads, with a payload of 200-300 kg. The test of the air-launched version of Brah-Mos supersonic cruise missile is expected to take place in 2012, said Dr Apathukatha Sivathanu Pillai chief executive, BrahMos Aerospace, during the Bangalore Space Expo 2010. He said the Indian Air Force has chosen the Su-30MKI fighter aircraft as a launch platform for the BrahMos missile. The IAF has also placed orders for land-to-land attack missiles.
Meanwhile, the Indian Army, which has given orders for long target missiles, is also procuring block-two BrahMos missiles for precise and controlled attacks on small targets. This will prevent the surrounding infrastructure from being destroyed. “BrahMos is a landmark project because it was started from scratch in India. We have been developing ballistic missiles. But it is a good learning process for Indian scientists to design and develop the cruise missile technology”, said Ajey Lele from the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), a Delhi-based think-tank.
Going forward , a hypersonic version of the missile — BrahMos-II is presently under development. The missile can touch speeds ranging from five to seven times that of sound, making it the fastest cruise missile in the world. Brahmos-II is expected to be ready by 2013-14 and will arm the Project 15B destroyers of the Indian Navy.