By Ranjit B Rai


New Delhi, 05 March 2004

The Brahmaputra is a river that originates in China and flows from the North East of India into the Bay of Bengal. Its name merged with Moscow gave birth to a new company in India –– BrahMos Aerospace, a joint stock holding company which is one of India’s most successful ventures in defence technology in cooperation with Russia.

It was many years ago when Pakistan acquired submarine launched Harpoons and re fitted the old Daphne submarines with US help and then acquired the French supplied Agosta boats with submarine launched Exocets, that the Indian Navy searched for a similar capability, having returned the leased nuclear boat INS Chakra to Russia in 1991.

The Russians offered the Uran Kh 35 System which are now fitted on the Kora and Delhi class and have ranges of up to 140 km and the Russians claim the Urans have land attack capability.

The new Talwar (Krivack class) now has the vertical launch Novator Klub and some Kilo class submarines have this as retrofits as per most reports. However in the Navy’s search for a long-range cruise missile the spotlight fell on Russia’s Yakhont/Oynix supersonic missile manufactured by NPO Mach near Moscow, where reportedly the production was stopped due to financial constraints of the collapsed Soviet Union.

A joint venture was born to assemble the missile jointly in India and that project has now begun to pay off. The BrahMos has a range of 290 km just below the MCTR range limit of 300 km. It flies to an altitude of 14 km post launch before travelling at Mach 2 plus supersonic speed to cover the distance. It then dives to sea level, skims the sea to avoid detection at supersonic speed and seeks the target with its seekers. Its mission computer exchanges data between the inertial and GPS navigation feeds. It has a reported 300 kg warhead, which makes it a potent weapon.

The DRDO of India that has steered the programme has carried out 6 to 7 successful launches and two have been from the forecastle of the Rajput class. In one firing at sea in late 2003 off the Chandipur Test range on the East Coast of India a target ship was hit and in other tests some 45 Russian engineers assisted.

In a move forward disclosed at DEFEXPO by DRDO it was revealed that in collaboration with engineering giant Larsen and Tubro that successfully launched the home built Prithvis from an OPV by providing the launch gear and stabilization systems, the BrahMos team has engineered a ship borne control console. This algorithm-based system can carry out BITE i.e. before launch test and enter target data for single and multiple launches. The missile employs solid fuel for launch and ramjet liquid fuel for supersonic flight. If the services accept the BrahMos it could well see operational service soon as India’s missile of the future, led by the Indian Navy.

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