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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Russia, India to Produce, Sell 1,000 Supersonic Cruise Missiles

Thu, 27 Jul 2006, 00:35

Russia and India intend to make 1,000 BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles over the next ten years through their joint venture company, and nearly 50 percent of them are expected to be sold to other countries, defense sources said Friday.

“We already have a capacity to produce 100 missiles a year. One thousand missiles in ten years is a reasonable target. Nearly 50 percent will go to exports,” a source told PTI.

India and Russia have so far invested 300 million dollars in BrahMos Aerospace, which was established to design, develop, produce and market the missile by using the technological skills and capabilities of both countries.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced last month that BrahMos (which takes its name from the Brahmaputra River of India and the Moskva River of Russia) has been inducted into the Indian Navy.

It is planned to supply the army with the missile’s land-based version next year. BrahMos missiles in the future could also be installed on the Sukhoi-30MKI combat jets of the Indian Air Force, said Sivathanu Pillai, a chief controller of research and development in the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

“Now, we are fitting one BrahMos in the belly (of the Su-30) to start with. With certain reinforcement of the wings, we can fit up to three,” he said.

Pillai said the joint venture company, established in India in 1998, is now looking at an upgraded version of BrahMos but added that no final decision has been taken. However, he hinted that one area of focus could be increasing the speed of the missile. “It can be speed,” he said.

Noting that BrahMos is the world’s only supersonic cruise missile without a competitor, he stressed on the need for retaining that competitive edge.

“Having reached this stage, it’s necessary that we keep that edge. We are definitely working on that (an upgraded version of BrahMos).”

The 2.5-ton BrahMos has a strike range of 290 km and has a maximum speed of Mach 2.8 (one km per second).

Pillai said BrahMos would be sold in third countries “very soon” but did not name the nations or give any timeframe.

He said the price of BrahMos depends on several variables like “country-to-country (relations), political situation and credit line.”

“There is no competition for BrahMos. Our prices are competitive. We are not greedy about making money out of it,” he commented.
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