By Bikram Vohra
BrahMos Aerospace’s Director, Marketing, Promotion and Export (MP&E), Praveen Pathak tells Indian Aerospace & Defence’s Consulting Editor Bikram Vohra about how the cutting-edge BrahMos missile system offers cost-effective solutions with easy maintenance, opening doors to more export opportunities.
Q. BrahMos Aerospace has signed its first major export deal with the Department of National Defense of the Philippines for the Marine Corps. Could you please provide your views on it?
Ans: As you rightly mentioned we have signed the first mega export deal of BrahMos Weapon Complex and this deal is not just the First for BrahMos but also for our country which is another feather in our cap. BrahMos has the landmark distinctions of many firsts in its kitty, be it the first Joint Venture as equal partners with a foreign nation, the first supersonic cruise missile to be inducted in all three services of the Indian Armed Forces, and now the first major weapon system sale to a foreign nation.
This deal is very significant for us. We know the first export contract is the hardest to achieve as the country buying the weapon system has to be fully confident in the capabilities of the weapon system, its role in enhancing the country’s defence, and its ease of use and maintenance. We have worked intensively with the Philippines Marine Corps to build trust, and we are committed to fulfilling all that we have promised as it is not just a buyer-seller relationship but complete support in terms of training, exploitation, and maintenance. We are hopeful of some more orders from the Philippines in the near future also.
Q. How is the Life Cycle Cost (LCC) of the BrahMos missile system compared to other missile systems in the export market? How does the Life Cycle Cost of BrahMos influence its competitiveness in the global export market for missile systems?
Ans: BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile which is delivered to its user in a Launch Container in a hermetically sealed form with a minimum guaranteed shelf life of 10 years. The health check of the missile is done once in three years from an umbilical connector through checkout equipment to ensure all parameters are maintained. We have a detailed maintenance and storage philosophy on which the user gets trained to ensure the required parameters are maintained which are basically the temperature and humidity. Based on the above we can say that it is, in today’s date the most cost-effective missile as compared to any other cruise missile in the world in terms of expenditure and ease of maintenance.
Q. What factors contribute to the Life Cycle Cost of the BrahMos missile system and how are they accounted for?
Ans: As I said, BrahMos is delivered to the users in a hermetically sealed container with detailed instructions on its storage requirements. As an addition to this BrahMos Aerospace builds the Technical Positions (TP) for the storage, checkout, and maintenance of the complete weapon complex. The facility is of world-class standards and ensures that all requirements for storage are easily met. The periodic checks which are performed on the missiles are maintained in a log which accounts for any deviations and their corrective measures, if any. This ensures that our systems are in perfect health and ready to use.
Q. How does BrahMos Aerospace ensure that the Life Cycle Cost of BrahMos remains affordable for export customers? Are there any strategies or measures that BrahMos Aerospace employs to reduce the Life Cycle Cost of the BrahMos missile system over its operational lifetime in the export market?
Ans: In addition to all that has been mentioned already, BrahMos Aerospace R&D department, with its partner organisations– the DRDO and NPOM– are constantly enhancing the specification of the missile and the weapon complex as per the requirement of our Armed Forces. The missile comes with a 10-year shelf life, but we have already given a life extension for five years by carrying out mid-life upgrades to the missiles delivered more than 10 years back, it means the cost that was paid by the user for a system to perform 10 years gets distributed to 15 years that’s an additional benefit, and I can guarantee that no other missile system comes close to what BrahMos provides. That is why when someone says BrahMos is a costly missile, they should see the LCC of the system and compare it with any other missiles in the world. I am sure they will change their mind after that. Here, I am not even talking about the ease of maintenance that BrahMos offers, but just the overall life expectancy.
Q. In your experience of dealing with the Indian and foreign armed forces and governments, how important has the Life Cycle Cost of the BrahMos missile system been a factor in the decision-making process for the Indian and (potential) export customers and what other factors are considered?
Ans: The Armed Forces (of a country) need the best of technologies, and if it comes with the ease of handling and maintaining then it is an icing on the cake. BrahMos is the world’s best supersonic missile in terms of its range, speed and accuracy of hit. All these factors definitely contribute to decision-making. Life Cycle Cost definitely is a major factor in such deals. Its also the strategic imperatives that make nations enter into major defence acquisition deals.