In a meeting conducted in the last week of March 2023, the National Security Adviser of India (NSA), Ajit Doval and his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev, discussed the possibilities of the joint development of the BrahMos II Hypersonic Missile.
Collaboration in defence sector and acquiring defence supplies from Russia were the primary aims of the meeting conducted on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
The two NSAs had held a one-on-one meet that focused on connectivity issues, Pakistan Ukraine defence axis, payment mechanism along with security partnership and defence supplies from Russia that have been impacted by war.
The Russian Federation is much ahead of the United States of America and other powers of the Western Bloc especially in the field of hypersonic weapons. These missiles are considered to be a game changer in Modern Warfare. The Hypersonic missiles came to the limelight during the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War.
Hypersonic Weapon systems are advanced military technologies that can travel at extremely high speeds, typically Mach-5 or higher (which is five times faster than the speed of sound). They are extremely manoeuvrable and capable of changing courses and evade enemy defence.
Additionally, they are capable of carrying out launches from a variety of platforms including ground systems, aircrafts and submarines. They can carry nuclear as well as conventional warheads and are seen as a game changer in military operations especially in the terms of speed, range and ability to penetrate enemy defences.
The BrahMos II hypersonic cruise missile is expected to be capable of travelling speeds up to Mach-7 and has a range of over 300 miles. It can be launched from land, sea and air.
In 2022, the Chairman of BrahMos Aerospace, Atul Rane had said that it was possible that the BrahMos-II missile is similar to Russian Zircon Missile.
Speaking to TASS (Russian News Agency), last year, Rane stressed that “the whole world is working on a hypersonic cruise missile. The US and China are developing hypersonic variants of their cruise missiles, but they do not have them yet. I have not seen anyone in the world having hypersonic cruise missiles. Russia said that it tested Zircon Hypersonic Anti-Ship Cruise Missile developed by NPO Mashinostroyeniya.”
According to Rane, the technology bricks for a hypersonic missile have been designed by both sides.
India is also a party to the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) which allows the country to develop a missile with a range of 300km and weighing more than 500kg. However, it cannot be exported to other countries.
This is true in the case of BrahMos Missiles, they have a latest variant of which has a range of 500km and the export version is capped at 290 km to comply with MTCR restrictions of 300km range.
The BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile jointly developed by Russian-Indian BrahMos Missile Aerospace Company. The missile has been developed by NPO Mashinostroyeniya and India’s DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) .
The first trial of the missile was conducted in the year 2001. Various versions of the missiles have been sent and commissioned to Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air-Force.