India gets closest to BrahMos missile export, as Russia readies approval

File Photo: India-Russia joint venture BrahMos missiles.

By N. C. Bipindra

New Delhi: India‘s plans to export its highly successful BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles to friendly foreign countries such as Vietnam and Philippines have got a boost, with Russia, the other partner in the joint venture, for the first time saying it is readying its approval.

Under the joint venture agreement signed in Feb. 1998, the approval of both the partners is perforce required before either India or Russia can export the missile, even to friendly nations not in each other’s neighbourhood.

Russian Federation‘s Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Russia in India Roman Babushkin told a virtual press meet on Sep. 7 that the “formal approval for the export of BrahMos missile is coming” soon.

He was talking about the special strategic relations that India and Russia enjoy, and as an example quoted the joint venture for the BrahMos missile — an exclusive weapon that India deploys — as an example of the importance the two nations accord to each other. He noted that the BrahMos missile has an option for expansion of its capabilities in the future too.

India has been deploying the BrahMos missile in all the three services, and the latest variant includes a steep strike capability that could in the future be used as an aircraft carrier killer.

India has been receiving queries For the missile from friendly nations, particularly those from South East Asia that have a running feud with China over territorial rights in the South China Sea. An expansionist Communist China has been creating artificial islands and carrying out reclamation of land from sea to boost its territorial claims over the South China Sea.

More of the South East Asian nations, including Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, may be keen on purchasing BrahMos missiles from India as a counter to China.

In Aug. 2018, Vietnam’s claims of procuring the BrahMos missile were denied by India. In July that year, the Ministry of Defence informed the Parliament of India that it has held talks on the sale of Bramhos missiles to Vietnam.

In Aug. 2016, weeks after India approved the BrahMos missile for deployment in Arunchal Pradesh close to the Line of Actual Control under its army’s mountain warfare units, China warned that such a move would have “a negative influence” on stability along the border. Arunachal Pradesh is entirely claimed by China as South Tibet. Ironically, Tibet is a separate nation that was never in Chinese control ever, until occupied by the Communist China’s military in 1949.

“India deploying supersonic missiles on the border has exceeded its own needs for self-defense and poses a serious threat to China’s Tibet and Yunnan provinces,” the PLA Daily said in a commentary then. “Deploying BrahMos missiles is bound to increase competitiveness and confrontation in Sino-Indian relations and bring a negative influence to stability of the region,” it added.

The BrahMos missile “could increase suddenness and effectivity (sic) of attacks”, including “crushing blows on time-sensitive targets like missile launchers and solid targets like command centres.”

Referring to descriptions of the new version of the BrahMos in Indian media reports, including the missile’s “excellent dive attack capabilities”, the commentary said it “fits in the Sino-Indian border where it’s mostly mountain topography.”

The missile’s “penetration capabilities” poses a threat to China’s border regions, said the commentary written by an expert from the PLA Navy‘s engineering university.

The sale of the BrahMos missile — the only operational supersonic cruise missile Globally and the longest-range artillery weapon in the Indian armed forces — could be a major irritant to China, which has been unleashing its expansionist tendencies with all of its neighbours, including India.

China has triggered a massive border row with India in the Ladakh region since May when the People’s Liberation Army troopers unilaterally attempted to alter the status quo along the Line of Actual Control and to grab territory.

A Sputnik News report of Aug. 24 claimed that an official from the BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited told the Russia-hosted Army 2020 Forum that Russia had already given the green light for the export of the BrahMos Missile to other friendly nations.

BrahMos Aerospace spokesperson could not be reached over his phone for a comment after several calls, as he was away in Moscow.

Among the other nations that have expressed interest in the BrahMos missile purchase are Brazil, Chile, South Korea, Algeria, Greece, South Africa, Egypt, and Bulgaria, with which India has had discussions on the export opportunity in the recent years.

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