BrahMos: 25 Years of the Joint Venture

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    BrahMos: 25 Years of the Joint Venture

    Syllabus: GS 3/Defence 

    In News 

     India-Russia defence Joint Venture BrahMos Aerospace has embarked on a glorious milestone as it completed  25 years.

    About BrahMos 

    • It is a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya. 
      • The missile derives its name from the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers.
    • The BrahMos JV was formed in 1998 and the first successful launch of the missile took place in 2001.

    Features 

    • Stages: BrahMos is a two-stage missile with a solid propellant booster engine. 
      • Its first stage brings the missile to supersonic speed and then gets separated. 
      • The liquid ramjet or the second stage then takes the missile closer to three times the speed of sound in the cruise phase.
    • Capability: The missile is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against surface and sea-based targets and has been long inducted by the Indian armed forces.
      • The ship-based version was inducted in the Navy in 2005, the land-based version in the Army in 2007, and the air-launched version was inducted in the Air Force in 2020.
    • Range:  The range of the BrahMos was originally limited to 290 km as per obligations of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) of which Russia was a signatory. Following India’s entry into the club in June 2016, plans were announced to extend the range initially to 450 km and subsequently to 600 km.
    • Speed: The BrahMos missile has a speed of 2.8 Mach, which is nearly three times the speed of sound
    • Indigenised: The missiles now contain a high level of indigenised content and several systems have also been indigenised to maximise the participation of Indian industry in the development of the ordnance. 

    Do you Know?

    • The MTCR is a voluntary multilateral grouping that aims to limit the spread of missile technologies that may be used for chemical, biological and nuclear attacks. 
      • To achieve its objectives, the MTCR restricts the transfer of missiles and certain technologies to non-MTCR members. India became a member in 2016.

    Latest developments

    • In January 2023, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the procurement of Brahmo’s launchers for Shivalik-class frigates and next-generation missile vessels.
    • An underwater version is also being developed, which will be exported to friendly foreign nations and used by Indian submarines. 
    • In January 2022, India’s BrahMos and Philippines Aerospace Limited inked a deal worth around $375 million to procure BrahMos cruise missiles for the Philippines Marines. 

    Export Potential 

    • Since the inception of the BrahMos project, it has been envisaged as a huge export opportunity.
    • Over the years many countries have shown an interest in the missile and the missile is generating a lot of global attention, particularly from South America, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and African regions.
    • In 2022, there were reports of a possible deal with Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and UAE.

    Importance 

    • The Brahmos JV has helped India develop its military-industrial complex.
    • The deal between the Philippines and BrahMos is a milestone in India’s efforts to become one of the largest defence exporters in the world. 
      • In addition, it also shows the growing capabilities of India’s public and private defence sectors. 
    • It helps the country achieve strategic autonomy in the defence sector, which is important to safeguard the country’s national interests.
    • Additional BrahMos exports could to some extent help in fulfilling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Making in India, Making for the world’, achieving the defence hardware export target of US$ 5 billion by 2025.
    • BrahMos missile provides India strategic airpower in the face of 2 inimical neighbours.

    Competitors and Challenges 

    • One of the most prominent cruise missiles in the world is the Tomahawk, developed by the US. Notably, it is subsonic and flies around 0.8 Mach.
      • It has a range of about 1,600 km, much more than the BrahMos, but its speed makes it relatively slow and somewhat easier to intercept.
    • The French Apache series of missiles is also a prominent cruise missile, with a top speed of 1 Mach. 
      • This has been inducted by UAE, Greece, Saudi Arabia, the UK and Italy, besides France. 
    • The Chinese inducted the YJ-1814 into the PLA in 2014. It has a range of 220–540 km and cruises at subsonic speed before accelerating to supersonic speed in the terminal stage.
    • The Russian P-800 Oniks  is a supersonic cruise missile with specifications somewhat similar to BrahMos and flies at a top speed of 2.2 Mach.
      • the BrahMos missile is not significantly different from the P-800 Oniks, it costs twice as much. This can be attributed perhaps to a more developed military industrial base in Russia which results in a lower cost of production. 
    • Possible defence deals are highly competitive, with major players extensively marketing their products. 

    Way Ahead

    • BrahMos has very few competitors in the international market and The 2022 Philippines deal should spur additional exports of the supersonic cruise missile.
    • India needs to more actively develop marketing and promotion networks akin to established players in the global market to promote defence sales.

    Mains Practise Question 

    [Q] What is the ‘BrahMos Aerospace’ military partnership? Explain how it can be useful in reinforcing India’s strategic autonomy in the defence sector.