India Plans Exports of Supersonic Anti-Ship Missile

File image courtesy photodivision.gov.in

By MarEx 2016-05-27 20:52:19

The Russian and Indian governments have agreed in principle to sell their jointly developed supersonic anti-ship missile – among the world's fastest – to South Africa, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates and Chile, says the missile’s manufacturer. 

"Talks [with these nations] are in advanced stages," said Praveen Pathak, spokesman for Brahmos Aerospace. "Since Russia is the partner country in the BrahMos joint venture with its consent discussions with several other countries, including Philippines, South Korea, Algeria, Greece, Malaysia, Thailand, Egypt, Singapore, Venezuela and Bulgaria have now been taken to the next level." 

UAE could be the first customer, he said. China has reportedly objected to the prospect of BrahMos’ sale to Vietnam, as the two nations are at diplomatic odds over Chinese claims in the South China Sea. 

Pathak announced in late April that BrahMos' first export contract would be signed with an Asian-Pacific nation by the end of 2016. The unit cost of the BrahMos is in the range of $3 million, making it relatively accessible to smaller militaries. The missile’s manufacturer intends total sales exceeding $10 billion. 

The supersonic cruise missile (and a hypersonic, Mach 6 successor currently under development) is a growing consideration for naval planners; Russian sources claim that the BrahMos cannot be defeated by existing anti-missile systems, though the U.S. Navy recently tested the new SeaRAM Rolling Airframe Missile Block 2 against supersonic targets with success. 

The U.S. is working to boost its own anti-ship missile capabilities by adapting existing designs, like the supersonic anti-air missile SM-6. "We're modifying the SM-6 so that . . . it can also target enemy ships at sea at very long ranges," said Defense Secretary Ash Carter early this year. The U.S. Navy is also retrofitting some of its existing inventory of Tomahawk land-attack missiles for an anti-ship role.