Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rs. 8,000 crore cleared for BrahMos, Invar missiles

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the highest decision making body for security issues headed by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, today cleared the acquisition of air-launched version of BrahMos missiles for the Russian-made Su-30 MKi air planes and Russian made Invar anti-tank missiles. The acquisition is estimated to cost the Indian exchequer Rs. 8000 crore.

Earlier, in March, 2012, in a letter to the Prime Minister and Defence Minister A K Antony, former Army Chief General V K Singh had highlighted severe shortfalls in ammunitions and missiles and had pointed out the Indian Army had tank ammunition for three-four days only.

Sources told NDTV that the CCS cleared the Rs. 6,000 crore plan to acquire the air-launched version of the BrahMos missile for India's main stay fighter plane Su-30 MKi.

BrahMos, a super-sonic missile that can travel at about 3 mach speed, is already being used by the Indian Navy and the Indian Army. It is a joint venture between India and Russia.

The Indian Air Force is expected to get about 200 of these missiles. Su-30 MKi will have to be modified to enable them to carry the air version of the BrahMos. In its current form only a single BrahMos can be fitted in the underbelly of the Su-30 MKi. There is, however, an effort to miniaturise the missiles and also modify the Sukhoi-30 under-the-wing-pods so that more than one missile can be fitted into a single aircraft. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is currently working on the modifications.

The first test launch of the air version of the BrahMos is expected to be conducted in December 2012. The BrahMos air version missiles will have range of about 290 kilometres and will enable the Indian Air Force to hit targets deep inside Pakistan while flying within Indian air space.

The CCS also cleared the acquisition of Invar anti-tank missiles for T-90 tanks at a total estimated cost of Rs. 2,000 crore to tide over crippling shortage of tank ammunition. The Invar Missile are fired from the barrel of the T-90 tanks. The Army wants about 20,000 Invar missiles. Source said that about 10,000 of these missiles would be brought from Russian whereas the remaining would be produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) under Transfer of Technology (ToT).