Despite diplomatic pressure and lobbying by the West, India has strengthened its relationship with its most crucial defense partner Russia. The two are all set to commence trials of their iconic supersonic missile — the next-gen BrahMos — even as Moscow remains embroiled in the Ukraine war.
Atul Rane, CEO of BrahMos Aerospace, announced on October 18 that the qualification trials of the BrahMos NG missile are anticipated to start in early 2024.
BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile developed by the Russian-Indian joint company BrahMos Aerospace. The Russian NPO Mashinostroeniya and the Indian DRDO are the collaborative producers of the weapon.
The Indian Air Force, Navy, and Ground Forces use the BrahMos missile.
The BrahMos Aerospace CEO told reporters that this new generation is what the company was working on, and the design work is currently being completed. BrahMos Aerospace will conduct the design assessment in NPO Mashinostroyeniya in Moscow.
Additionally, it is expected that the company will enter the qualifying trials of the brand-new missile in a year, supposedly in 2023 or early 2024.
According to the CEO, the new next-generation missile weighs almost half as much as the regular BrahMos missile currently operational with India. It is its most potent and lethal supersonic cruise missile.
“1,330 kilograms is what we are aiming for. Performance in terms of range is the same, 300 kilometers. [We want it to be] launchable from any aircraft [in service in India],” the CEO said.
It is also pertinent to note that the joint venture is looking to accelerate its export after signing its first-ever export deal for $375 million with the Philippines. Rane told reporters that the company hopes to bag orders worth $5 billion by 2025. It is currently discussing a potential sale with countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia for new orders.
This indicates growing military cooperation between New Delhi and Moscow despite Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message to Putin that “It was not the era for war but peace,” highly praised by the West. In April 2021, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov implied that the two countries were discussing “additional” production of Russian military equipment in India.
Not just that, EurAsian Times reported on October 17 that Russia has offered to supply the Indian Army with the Sprut SDM1 light amphibious tank and has submitted a technical proposal to New Delhi to that end.
BrahMos NG missile is soon to enter the trial phase, and the AK-203 Rifles will soon start production in India. This comes when the United States and other western countries have sought to deepen cooperation with India to wean it off its dependence on Russian military equipment.
BrahMos Next-Generation Missile: Coming Soon!
The Brahmos missile, currently in service with all three wings of the Indian military, has a range of up to 290 kilometers and flies at supersonic speeds the entire time, which reduces target dispersion, speeds up engagement time, and ensures that any weapon system cannot intercept it.
It follows the ‘Fire and Forget Principle,’ taking various routes to reach its destination.
BrahMos has tremendous destructive force since it impacts a target with a massive amount of kinetic energy. Its terminal altitude is only 10 meters, with a cruising height of up to 15 kilometers. A missile can carry a conventional warhead weighing 200 to 300 kilograms.
The BrahMos-NG (Next Generation) will be a scaled-down variant of the current BrahMos missile. It is expected to be 50% lighter, three meters smaller than the current BrahMos, and have the same 290-kilometer range and Mach 3.5 speed. It will weigh around 1.5 tons and will be about 5 meters long.
Due to BrahMos-NG’s reduced weight and size can be carried by a broader range of platforms, including conventional submarines and fighter planes.
The missile can be fired from the ground, the air, the ocean, and underneath. This missile’s size allows it to be fired even from submarine torpedo tubes.
The Russian-origin Su-30MKI fighter jet, which can now only transport one BrahMos, will be able to transport five BrahMos-NGs in the future.
The missile can be installed on the MiG-29 and the indigenous LCA Tejas, said Praveen Pathak, Chief General Manager (Marketing Promotions and Export) BrahMos Aerospace International Maritime at the Defense Show (IMDS).
According to certain speculations, the BrahMos-NG would also be compatible with the Rafale. Additionally, the BrahMos NG has a lower radar cross-section (RCS) than the existing BrahMos missile, making it stealthier and challenging for air defense systems to locate and engage the target.
The BrahMos missile has been touted as a game-changer by military engineers and experts. The missile is so lethal and capable that when India deployed the BrahMos along the Line of Actual Control, it made the People’s Liberation Army personnel fume angrily.