Thursday, June 13, 2024

Exclusive Interview With IAF Deputy Chief: BrahMos Air Version’s Impact On Operational Flexibility & Strategic Reach

By Kamal Shah

Indian Aerospace & Defence’s Editorial Director, Kamal Shah, exclusively spoke to the Indian Air Force’s Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (DCAS), Air Marshal Ashutosh Dixit on the IAF’s end-user experience with the BrahMos Air Version. The IAF Deputy Chief spoke about the service’s role in the development of the variant and what it requires from BrahMos Aerospace for its future airpower needs.

IADB Editorial Director Kamal Shah understanding the end-user experience from IAF Deputy Chief, Air Mshl. Ashuthosh Dixit; Staff Photographer

Q. How has the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) experience been with BrahMos after it integrated the BrahMos missile system?

Ans: BrahMos missile has been integrated with efforts of IAF, HAL and BAPL and is one of the major achievements towards “Atmanirbhar Bharat”. Brahmos integration has not only increased operational capability of IAF but has also opened possibilities of integrating new indigenous weapons independently on all class of fighter aircraft. Being largely indigenous, turnaround time for repair of equipment and missile is appreciably low vis-à-vis foreign suppliers.

Q. How do BrahMos missiles play role in air domain? How does it influence the game for an Air Force?

Ans: BrahMos missiles possess long-range precision standoff capability.  Application of this capability, especially through airborne platforms, greatly enhances the targeting reach and depth for an air force. This capability also provides an option for coordinated application of fire power for conduct of strategic campaign in depth. Use of the surface to surface variant of the missile along with air launched variant offers the commanders the flexibility to address a wide variety of targets, depending on the air, ground, and maritime situation.

Q. The BrahMos missile has been successfully demonstrated from Su-30MKI.  Could you provide a technical perspective on how difficult or easy it is to integrate BrahMos missile system with     Su-30MKI and with potential newer platforms like BrahMos-NG with LCA?

Ans: Present class of BrahMos missile along with its launcher is heavy and it requires certain in-depth analysis for integrating missile on other available assets of IAF. NG-BrahMos is a lighter version, which IAF is intending to integrate on LCA series of aircraft. Work is in progress and IAF is confident that in coming years NG version will get integrated on higher versions of LCA and other platforms of IAF.

BrahMos NG features: Graphical representation

Q. The BrahMos missile uses the fire-and-forget principle; the missile can reach speeds close to Mach 3 and has a low radar signature.  How do these features influence the overall strength and strategies of an Air Force?

Ans: Being a supersonic missile with low radar signature, BrahMos is very difficult to detect and intercept both during cruise and terminal phases of flight. The weapon has proven its accuracy against land and sea targets during various training missions. Due to this capability, IAF can employ BrahMos against adversary’s strategic targets.

Q. How has the BAPL met the IAF’s expectations in terms of product quality, service and ongoing support? How has been the reliability of the BrahMos missile system in terms of precision strike, success rate, system maintenance and other metrics for the IAF?

Ans: BrahMos systems is supplied to IAF by BAPL, which is a joint venture between Indian and Russian Government (M/s BAPL, India and M/s NPOM, Russia). M/s BAPL being Indian partner, with maximum equity, has appreciably good control over the partnership. Missiles being manufactured in India, BAPL along with involved private industries are able to provide excellent technical and product support to services. The turnaround time for repairing of equipment and missile is appreciably low vis-à-vis foreign suppliers. Due to this aspect, IAF is able to maintain the system in highest serviceability state at all times. BAPL is also endeavouring to increase the indigenous content of the missile. Both the Air Version and Surface to Surface versions of BrahMos missile are highly reliable and accurate.

Q. The BrahMos missile system has been integrated with various platforms like land base mobile autonomous launcher, ships, submarines and aircraft.  Could you explain the strategic importance of this multi-platform integration?

Ans: BrahMos missile has been inducted in the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and the IAF in different configurations. IAF missile is lighter by approximately 500kg due to known reasons. All the versions have approximately similar reaches, while IAF has certain advantages in terms of extended stand-off ranges. With the specified ranges, armed forces will be able to engage adversary strategic targets simultaneously and with better accuracies. Apart from operational advantage, due to commonality between the systems, mass production of missiles to meet multi-front contingency can be coordinated with BAPL efficiently.

Q. Several friendly foreign countries have expressed interest in the BrahMos missile system.  How do you envision this could potentially enhance defence cooperation, strategic alignment and joint operations in the event of hostilities against common threats?
Ans: Indigenous R&D establishments in the defence sector are playing an increasingly pivotal role in enhancing our operational capability. They have enabled integration of various systems into IAF equipment through innovative and cost-effective solutions and have also developed state-of-the-art weapon systems through JVs with foreign vendors. BrahMos is one such example of a weapon system tailor-made to meet emerging threats in the Indian sub-continent. Friendly Foreign Countries (FFCs) in our neighborhood and beyond can benefit from the capabilities presented by this weapon system.  Export of this weapon system would greatly enhance India’s strategic reach and strategic alignment with friendly countries. It will also enhance export potential of India in the Defence Sector. This approach will allow potential defence cooperation and will also help in undertaking strategic joint operations against our adversaries.

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