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Russia, India Plan to Jointly Upgrade BrahMos Missile

By Vusala Abbasova September 15, 2020

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Touted as a missile which has no analogues in the world, BrahMos is currently capable of hitting targets beyond the radar horizon and can be launched against ships and land-based targets from sea-based and land-based weapon systems.

India and Russia have adopted a plan for joint development of an extended-range air-to-air class of the BrahMos cruise missile, which is capable of downing major aerial targets equipped with Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS).

According to Alexander Maksichev, Managing Co-director of the Russian-Indian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace, the new cruise missile that can shoot-down enemy AWACS aircraft is expected to be launched by 2024.

AWACS is a mobile, long-range radar surveillance and control center developed by the US Air Force for air defense purposes. The system, which is often called the "Eye in the Sky," can detect and track incoming fighters, cruise missiles and drones at a distance of 370 km (200 nautical miles) and high-level targets at much greater distances. It also can track maritime traffic, and it operates in any weather over any terrain. 

"Thus, we are expanding the range of targets for the BrahMos missiles," Maksichev said speaking to Russian news agency RIA Novosti on Monday, adding that it will be capable of destroying air targets in a few years. "That means that the platform will remain the same only with some modernization, but it will have different 'brains', that is, a different target seeking device to destroy a radar, that is, contrast target."

BrahMos is considered the world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile currently operated by any modern military with a maximum speed of Mach 2.8 (about 952 meters per second). Being developed by BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture between the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) of India and NPO Mashinostroeyenia (NPOM) of Russia, the cruise missile has a flight range of up to 290 km and carries a 200-300 kg conventional warhead.

Touted as a missile which has no analogues in the world, BrahMos is currently capable of hitting targets beyond the radar horizon and can be launched against ships and land-based targets from sea-based and land-based weapon systems. Meanwhile, the hypersonic version of the BrahMos missile, which is currently under development, is supposed to be able to travel at a speed of Mach 5 (1715 meters per second) to Mach 7 (2401 m/s) and hit targets at a distance of up to 600 km.

The name BrahMos is a confluence of the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra in India and the Moskva in Russia. The short-range supersonic missile has been used by the Indian Navy since 2005.

The BrahMos Aerospace venture between Moscow and New Delhi was established in 1998 to design, develop, produce and market BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. At the Army-2020 forum in Russia in mid-August, the joint venture defense firm of BrahMos Aerospace was given a nod by both partner nations to export BrahMos missile to friendly countries.

Meanwhile, India’s military-political relations and arms trade with Russia, which began in the Soviet era, have expanded in recent years despite threats of sanctions from the United States.

In 2017, the Trump Administration adopted the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) that puts under the threat of sanctions any country engaged in what the U.S. Treasury Department terms a "significant transaction" with Russian defense and intelligence sectors.

India is ranked one of the largest and oldest buyers of Russian defense equipment, with military cooperation dating back to the Soviet era. The Soviet Union was India’s main supplier during the cold war, and today most of its armament is Russian, or Soviet, made. According to estimates, Russian defense supplies to India has accounted for over $65 billion since 1960. About 70 percent of the Indian Air Force’s equipment is Russian-made, while 80 percent of its naval fleet is Russian.