The government has opened up to the development of the BrahMos-Next Generation (NG) missile, according to sources in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Sources said that the BrahMos-NG prototype may be ready by end of next year.
Earlier, a three-party agreement looked unlikely between JSC MIC NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM) of Russia, DRDO and BrahMos Aerospace for the development of the NG variant but the government is looking to go ahead with the programme. The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile has been developed under a joint venture between India and Russia. It has sea-to-land, sea-to-sea, land-to-land, land-to-sea and subsea-to-land launch capabilities. The BrahMos has a strike range of 290 km and the BrahMos NG will also be of the same range. The maximum speed will also be the same – Mach 3. The BrahMos can carry a 300 kg warhead to its target and is being seen as a good addition to the navy’s present submarine fleet and future plans to acquire the P-75(1) class attack submarines.
“We are now fast-tracking the BrahMos NG missile development project. It will be lighter and smaller in size. The takeaway is that it will add the capability for torpedo tube launch. The BrahMos NG will also be mountable on the LCA Tejas,” say the DRDO sources.
The BrahMos-NG version is being developed as a lighter variant that can be launched through submarines as well one that can be retrofitted on light combat aircraft (LCA) like Tejas whose maximum takeoff weight is 14 tonnes. The BrahMos NG fall nicely into the Indian Navy’s plans to acquire P75(1) class attack submarines.
Currently, the only aircraft which can carry the BrahMos missile is the Sukhoi SU-30MKI whose maximum takeoff capacity is 40 tonnes. Other aircraft believed to be capable of carrying the missile are the Dassault Rafale and MiG 29K. The BrahMos is a highly advanced, precise and lethal cruise missile. It can be launched from multiple platforms like land, sea and air.
“The BrahMos NG assumes significance as it will be capable of being launched from all platforms like air, water and sea. It will be compatible for launches through ground launch vehicles, destroyers and other naval attack vessels, torpedo tubes in submarines and air launch as well. It will be highly versatile and will prove to be a potent weapon that will bolster our strike capabilities as well as improve export offerings. The current version has failed to draw much attention from the market in terms of export demand. This will be a more desirable variant, we believe,” a source in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) told this newspaper.
The weight of the missile will be slashed from 3000 kg to around 1600 kg. The Brahmos NG will also be 3 metre shorter than the 9-metre long BrahMos. The NG variant will have advanced capabilities including electronic countermeasures and stealth.
“The NG variant is going to have advanced stealth capabilities and will also be capable of beating shake-off capabilities with electronic counter-countermeasures. We wish to build a weapon that is effective, and which draws interest from buyers as well.
This venture has created a large ecosystem in the defence manufacturing. Over 200 firms, government run or private, are involved in producing this masterpiece. The in-house development and manufacturing also means that maintenance, spares and others issues are minimised. BrahMos project is very important to Make-in-India mission and that has been communicated to us very clearly. The ministry is willing to sell the BrahMos missiles and is trying to find buyers for it. We have kicked into the next gear on the new generation variant,” the source said.