BrahMos, world's fastest cruise missile, is likely to be supplied to a third country with the contract for the same most probably to be signed sometime in April or May 2020. The supersonic missile capable of flying at Mach 3 (over 3704 kilometres per hour) is an India-Russia venture and can be launched from land, ship as well as an aircraft.

"We expect (signing the agreement) sometime in April or May," the Chief General Manager (Marketing, Promotion and Export) of BrahMos Aerospace Praveen Pathak was quoted as saying by Russian news agency TASS. However, Pathak did not mention the country or countries interested in buying BrahMos although he added that talks are currently underway with some prospective buyers.

The Manila Bulletin in Oct 2019 reported that Indian and Philippines officials had discussed the possible sale of the BrahMos missile to the Philippine Army during a visit by the INS Sahyadri, an Indian Navy warship, to Manila last week. Philippines Army vice-commander Major General Reynaldo Aquino toured the INS Sahyadri.

India's all three defence forces - Indian Army, Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy - operate the BrahMos. While the Indian Army and Indian Navy have had the BrahMos in their arsenal for the last several years, the IAF inducted its first Sukhoi Su-30MKIs equipped with the air-launched supersonic cruise missile in 222 Tigersharks Squadron at the Thanjavur air force station on Monday (January 20, 2020).

The air-launched BrahMos has a range of 400 kilometres while the land and sea version of the missile can hit a target 290 km away. Developed jointly by Russia's Research and Production Association of Machine-Building and India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the BrahMos is a medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile.

While the missiles with the Indian Army and Indian Navy weigh 3,000 kg, the version in service with the IAF is 500 kg lighter. The missile has a conventional warhead of 200-300 kg with a cruising altitude of up to 15 km and the terminal altitude of only 10 metres which means BrahMos becomes virtually undetectable to the enemy radar and defence systems because it is extremely close to the ground.

With a range of 290 km, the BrahMos is expected to be a game-changer for the Philippine Army, if purchased, and a potential deal could irk China.

Our Bureau