October 23, 2021

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With latest Brahmos launch, India takes another step towards perfecting supersonic cruise missile


The missile can be used to take out heavily defended enemy targets like airbases, roadways, logistics dumps or army headquarters that may be difficult to reach without risk for India’s fighter aircraft.
Regarded as one of the world’s finest supersonic cruise missiles, the BrahMos has a speed of roughly 2.8 Mach (nearly 3,000 kmph) making it incredibly difficult for enemy combatants to target and shoot it down
On September 30, the Army successfully test-fired an extended range variant of the BrahMos that, reportedly, struck a target over 400km away
It is currently used by all three services and can be launched from submarines, surface warship, ground launchers and aircraft
The Indian Army, on Tuesday, conducted a successful test-firing of the land-attack version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from the Andaman and Nicobar island territory as part of a series of planned launches scheduled for this week. The latest test, and ones expected to follow, come despite the land-attack variant already having been deployed in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh along with howitzers, tanks, surface-to-air missiles and other weapons. 
Regarded as one of the world’s finest supersonic cruise missiles, the BrahMos has a speed of roughly 2.8 Mach (nearly 3,000 kmph) making it incredibly difficult for enemy combatants to target and shoot it down. For perspective, conventional missiles like the US’ Tomahawk travel at around 900 kmph – a speed at which supersonic aircraft can overtake them. 
On September 30, the Army successfully test-fired an extended range variant of the BrahMos that, reportedly, struck a target over 400km away. The current version of the BrahMos in use is said to have a range of 290 km. Currently, the Indian Army has four BrahMos regiments but it will be years before the extended range version comes into operational service in the 5th and 6th BrahMos regiments.
The real value of the BrahMos missile can be leveraged during opening stages of a conflict. The missile can be used to take out heavily defended enemy targets like airbases, critical roadways, logistics dumps or army headquarters that may be difficult to reach without risk for India’s fighter aircraft. 
Decades in the making
The BrahMos project was first implemented in 1998 between India and Russia with both countries originally having to adhere to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) that prohibits the transfer of missile technology with ranges beyond 300km to non-member states. However, when India became an MTCR member country in 2016, it was no longer bound so strictly to such technology transfer rules. 
The medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile can be launched from ships, aircraft or land. A joint venture between Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya and the DRDO, the missile is, reportedly, based on the Russian P-800 Oniks cruise missile, and derives its name from the two rivers of Brahmaputra in India and Moskva in Russia. 
Since its development, the missile has undergone numerous upgrades, integrated with new hardware and software that has necessitated constant test launches. Over the years, the BrahMos has become one of the most important assets in India’s military arsenal. It is currently used by all three services and can be launched from submarines, surface warship, ground launchers and aircraft.
According to reports, each BrahMos regiment – equipped with a mobile entity and command post, four missile-launcher units and several missile carriers capable of carrying up to 90 missiles – costs roughly Rs 2,000 crore. Each BrahMos missile is believed to cost around Rs 15 crore – similar to that of the US military’s Tomahawk. As such, despite being among the best supersonic missiles in the world, the prohibitive cost of the missile has found India and Russia struggling to find international buyers for it. 

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