Friday, May 24, 2024

BrahMos-NG & LCA Tejas Export Pairing: A Lucrative Opportunity In The Offing?

By Aritra Banerjee

The BrahMos Next-Generation missile is slated to make its maiden flight in the next 24 months. It has been revealed that the BrahMos NG will be integrated with the LCA Tejas. The BrahMos-NG missile will be ready for production in two-three years after the missile’s first flight. Officials from BrahMos Aerospace have highlighted on the sidelines of DefExpo 2022 that the BrahMos-NG’s weight would be around 50% lower than the present operational air-launched variant. This significant weight reduction would allow the BrahMos-NG to be mounted on the LCA Tejas.

It has been learnt that during the development phase, the BrahMos-NG is being integrated on the SU-30 MKI and will later be integrated on the LCA Tejas and other Indian Air Force fighter aircraft as well. The present BrahMos air-launched variant weighs approximately 2.65 tonnes. The BrahMos-NG is expected to be significantly lighter at around 1.33 tonnes. This weight reduction will allow the SU-30 MKI to carry four BrahMos-NGs and the LCA Tejas to carry two BrahMos-NGs as part of its weapons payload.

New Delhi has already exported the BrahMos missile system to the Philippines in a $375 million mega defence deal, and at least 16 countries have seen the LCA Tejas as a lucrative product offering. A market survey published in November last year placed Tejas as one of the best LCAs in the global market. With both the BrahMos missiles and LCA Tejas being a sought-after export option, would the export pairing of the BrahMos-NG and LCA Tejas boost India’sIndia’s stature in the global market as it aims to meet an ambitious defence export target?

Leading American defence and aerospace analyst and editor Steve Trimble shared his take on the export potential of the LCA Tejas and BrahMos-NG pairing. He told IADB, “Brahmos NG is a potent weapon on any platform, but there are three important considerations that could limit India’s ability to export the system on the Tejas Mk-1A. First, Brahmos NG requires a long-range, over-the-horizon targeting system. In many cases, it may not be possible for the Tejas to use its own sensors to find, identify and fix targets. So any customer that acquires the Brahmos NG for Tejas will need to use or create its own system.”

“Secondly, exporting weapon systems abroad is difficult in the best of circumstances, but particularly hard without a meaningful commitment by the domestic operator. So potential buyers may look to see whether the Indian Air Force equips the Brahmos NG on the Tejas Mk-1A first before seriously considering it. Thirdly, Russia’s presence in the program could make it difficult for some countries to sign an order for the foreseeable future, or until the existing sanctions regime expires or is withdrawn,” Trimble concluded in his assessment.

However, former IAF Vice Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal BN Ghokale (r), expressed his optimism towards the paring in the global export market. He told IADB, “I am hopeful that this combination [LCA Tejas integrated with BrahMos NG] is a great idea for export to South East Asian countries. It will also be good for India’sIndia’s presence in Indo-Pacific.” It is now a waiting game before the BrahMos-NG is successfully integrated into the LCA Tejas, with the pairing being seen as India’s next big defence export offering.

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