India’s military strike capability of hitting land targets from the sea has received another dose of much-needed firepower with the successful test-firing of the supersonic land-attack cruise missile from a stealth frigate in the Bay of Bengal. The land-attack variant of the BrahMos missile, a joint product of India-Russia collaborative effort, was tested in March this year with an extended range of 450-km from the earlier 290-km. And on April 21 this year, it was fired from an Indian Navy frigate INS Teg, giving it the power to precisely hit targets from the sea deep into the enemy land,
“The land-attack variant of BrahMos provides Indian warships the capability to precisely neutralize selected targets deep inland, far away from the coast, from stand-off ranges at sea,” said an Indian Navy Officer. The land version of the missile has been built keeping in mind the steep mountains and gorges which characterize the topography of the Himalayas dividing India and China and India and Pakistan.
The development puts India in the big league of a select few countries—the US, the UK, China and Russia–to possess this capability. A majority of India’s frontline warships are capable of firing this missile, according to the officer. The technology upgrade to the extended range BrahMos was done after India joined the 34-nation Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June 2016, which removed the caps on the missile’s range.
The Indian Navy has so far more than 10 warships equipped with the anti-ship version of the BrahMos missiles which fly almost three times the speed of sound. The Army has in its arsenal three BrahMos regiments and another is in the process of induction. The Indian Air Force is also slated to begin testing the missile from its Sukhoi-30MKI fighters soon. The combined orders placed for the BrahMos missiles from the three defence services stand at over Rs 27,000 crore.
The Indian Navy is upgrading its weapons system and platforms as part of a major modernisation programme of the country’s military under which New Delhi is also expected to buy nearly $2 billion worth of weapons technology from Israel in what’s being described as the “largest defence contract”. The deal will see state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries provide India with an advanced defence system of medium-range surface-to-air missiles, launchers and communications technology, according to a company statement. The firm will also supply a naval defence system including long-range surface-to-air missiles for India’s first aircraft carrier under construction.
India has emerged as the world’s largest defence hardware importer and is investing huge money in updating its Soviet-era military hardware. New Delhi has inked a number of big-ticket defence deals since 2014, including a contract to buy 36 Rafale twin-engine fighter jets from France for 7.9 billion Euros.
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