New Delhi: Indonesia has become the second ASEAN nation, after Malaysia, to show keen interest in acquiring the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile. This interest has been expressed through the visiting Indonesian navy chief, Admiral Siamet Soebijanto, who is currently on a three-day visit to the country.
The Indonesian naval chief has had a meeting with defence minister AK Antony. Separately, he has also held talks with his Indian counterpart, Admiral Sureesh Mehta and the defence secretary, Shekhar Dutt.
It is also understood that Adm. Soebijanto has received a detailed briefing on the security scenario in the region and the country's threat perceptions, especially in its sprawling island territories.
The Indian and Indonesian navies have collaborated closely over the past few years and have also participated in bilateral and multilateral exercises in the Andaman seas, Malacca Straits as well as in waters off the Indian coast.
After his meetings with the top defence brass here, the Indonesian naval chief heads for Mumbai, that bases the country's premiere western naval command. Adm. Soebijanto is likely to visit top-of-the-line warships that form part of the naval commands' force.
Meanwhile, in New Delhi, the admiral also paid a visit to the Brahmos complex, where he showed keen interest in the supersonic cruise missile, jointly developed by India and Russia.
The BrahMos is unique in many aspects amongst the missiles of the world. Where all existing cruise missiles are sub-sonic, the Brahmos is supersonic and is available in three configurations -anti-ship, sea-to-land and land-to-land. An air-launched version is currently under development and is expected to be ready for deployment by 2008. The missile has a range of 290 km and carries a 200 kg warhead.
Frontline units of the Indian Navy have already installed the system while the army has begun the process of induction. The BrahMos is currently being configured for aerial deployment with the Su-30MKI as its carrier. The production of the BrahMos missile is slated to be hiked to three time its current numbers in order to cater to the large orders already placed by the Indian defence forces.
Increased interest by other countries is only likely to add to the production numbers.