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India said the world’s fastest cruise missile passed another key test Wednesday when it successfully hit a land target after being fired from a fighter jet. India is developing the supersonic BrahMos missile — which has a top speed of 3,450 kilometres (2,140 miles) per hour — with Russia, and according to media reports wants to soon start selling it abroad.
BrahMos is named for the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers of India and Russia respectively and has been extracted from the short-range Russian P-800 supersonic cruise missile. This supersonic, Mach 3 missile is presently the fastest cruise missile in the world and can be launched from both, surface ships and land-based missile launchers.
India said the world’s fastest cruise missile passed another key test Wednesday when it successfully hit a land target after being fired from a fighter jet.
The missile is one-and-a-half times faster than the old Concorde supersonic jet. The Indian defence ministry said a specially converted Su-30 MKI fighter jet successfully fired the 2.5-tonne missile, which has a range of about 300 kilometres (185 miles).
“The launch from the aircraft was smooth and the missile followed the desired trajectory before directly hitting the land target,” a ministry statement said. It did not say where the test was staged or give other details apart from saying “very complex” mechanical, electrical and software modifications were made to the Russian-origin fighter jet.
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The first test on a sea target was staged in November 2017. India said then it was the first country “to have successfully fired an air-launched 2.8 Mach surface attack missile of this category on a sea target”.
BrahMos Provides India Strategic Advantage?
“The BrahMos missile provides Indian Air Force a much-desired capability to strike from large stand-off ranges on any target at sea or on land with pinpoint accuracy by day or night and in all weather conditions,” the ministry said.
BrahMos is named for the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers of India and Russia respectively and has been extracted from the short-range Russian P-800 supersonic cruise missile.
India has already ordered sea-launched versions of the missile for its navy, and specialist defence media reports have said the BrahMos could start being introduced to the air force from 2020. BrahMos is a joint venture between India and Russia and officials from the enterprise have said at recent international air shows that discussions on sales are being held with a number of countries.
Interested Buyers: Southeast Asian & Gulf Countries
Media reports have said Southeast Asian countries have expressed particular interest, which could worry China. The Economic Times reported that for several years now, Vietnam has been interesting in buying BrahMos, alongside other Southeast Asian states, including Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.
Commodore S K Iyer, a manager at BrahMos Aerospace, had suggested that the Gulf Countries are also interested in the missiles. While speaking at the IMDEX Asia 2019 defence trade show, he said, as cited by National Interest, “A number of South East Asian countries are ready to buy our missiles. It will be our first export and we have received increasing interest in the missiles from the Gulf countries.”
India said then it was the first country “to have successfully fired an air-launched 2.8 Mach surface attack missile of this category on a sea target”.
Economic Times had highlighted multiple questions about Indian exports of BrahMos, stating that in 2018, the Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had put forward a series of “crucial issues required to be addressed before exporting what has been touted as the world’s deadliest missile system.”
The Indian newspaper also brought to light certain “fiscal considerations” of potential countries that are interested in buying. ET stated that cost negotiations have taken up a significant amount of time and slowed down economic growth has bound countries with budgetary constraints on the acquisition of viable, cost-effective defence equipment.
India and Russia are reported to be preparing plans for a longer range version of the missile which could fly at up to Mach 5, or 6,125 kilometres (3,800 miles) per hour.
Pakistan Responds with Shaheen II
A day after nuclear-rival India conducted a test of its BrahMos cruise missile, Pakistan responded with a successful training launch of the Shaheen-II surface-to-surface ballistic missile. An official statement by the ISPR stated, “Successful training launch of the surface to surface ballistic missile Shaheen-II conducted.”
The Economic Times reported that for several years now, Vietnam has been interesting in buying BrahMos.
The statement issued by Pakistan Army’s media wing noted that the training launch was aimed at “ensuring operational readiness” of the army strategic forces command. DG ISPR Asif Ghafoor also shared the news from his official Twitter account, he wrote, “Shaheen II is capable of carrying both conventional & nuclear warheads up to a range of 1500 KMs. Shaheen-II fully meets Pak’s strat needs towards the maintenance of desired deterrence stability in the region.”
Pakistan’s Shaheen II missile is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads up to a range of 1500 kilometres, meeting Pakistan’s strategic needs towards the maintenance of desired deterrence stability in the region. The statement issued by the ISPR noted, “Shaheen-II is a highly capable missile which fully meets Pakistan’s strategic needs towards the maintenance of desired deterrence stability in the region.”
The training launch of Shaheen II, having its impact point in the Arabian Sea, was witnessed by multiple dignitaries and senior officials, including the Director General Strategic Plans Division, Commander Army Strategic Forces Command, Chairman NESCOM, senior officers from the Army Strategic Forces Command, Scientists and Engineers of the strategic organizations.
President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, and the Services Chiefs congratulated the scientists and engineers who had made the launch of Shaheen-II a successful reality.