New Delhi: In a landmark development in the country's defence history, the Indian Army became the first in the world to induct a supersonic cruise missile into its inventory. The historic moment came when the President, also the supreme commander of the Indian armed forces, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, handed over a replica of the mobile autonomous launchers (MAL) of the BrahMos land attack system to the chief of the Indian Army Staff, Gen JJ Singh, symbolizing the commencement of delivery of the supersonic cruise missiles to the Indian Army, at a function here today.
The function was attended, among others, by the defence minister, AK Antony, the minister of state for defence, MM Pallam Raju, scientific advisor to the defence minister, M Natrajan, the Ambassador of Russia to India, Vyacheslav Trubnikov and the chief executive officer and managing director of BrahMos Aerospace, Dr A Sivathanu Pillai.
The President also handed over 61 manuals, relating to operation and maintenance of each system of BrahMos, to the Army chief, Gen JJ Singh.
In a message sent for the occasion, prime minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, described the BrahMos system as one of the most advanced supersonic cruise missiles in the world and said that it was an excellent model of high technology cooperation between India and the Russian Federation.
Defence minister AK Antony said that the capabilities of the missile system, which have been proved through a series of successful flight trials, would bolster the Indian Army and enhance the defence preparedness of the nation. 'In the changing face of the war theatre, induction of BrahMos and similar high-technology systems will play a commanding role in protecting the nation's interests'.
Antony pointed out, however, that production orders to the required quantity must be made to make the joint venture economically viable. In order to cater to the growing demands of the Indian and Russian Armed Forces, as well as the export market, the production activities would have to be geared up accordingly.
The army chief said that he had witnessed two launches of the BrahMos system in the desert and was confident that the missile system will be a force multiplier in the country's strategic armoury.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Pillai said that when all four versions of the BrahMos - ship, land, air and submarine launched are used in a seamless integration among the various services, it would effectively destroy any kind of threat.
'BrahMos will be a war winner and will play a crucial role in future warfare', he said.
Dr Pillai also said that the DRDO had played a very important role in the development of a number of systems for the missile and ground complex and continued to work on many developmental efforts in close coordination with the defence services, including inertial navigation systems and integration with the Russian Glonass military satellite system, seeker systems, improved operational software in the network centric warfare.
BrahMos land attack weapon system
The BrahMos missile is launched from a Transport Launch Canister (TLC), which also acts as storage and transport container.
The Government has currently approved induction of three regiments of the BrahMos missile system into the Indian Army, out of which the Army is initially operationalising one regiment. Towards this end, the delivery of one Mobile Command Post and two Mobile Autonomous Launchers has been advanced by a year.
The delivery of this system was initially due to start from July 2008.
BrahMos, the world's most advanced supersonic cruise missile, has evolved out of the joint efforts of Indian and Russian scientists, under the joint venture company BrahMos Aerospace, which has the Indian defence establishment's DRDO and NPO Mashinostroyenia as consortium members.
The company came into existence consequent to an inter-governmental agreement signed between the two countries in February 1998. The acronym BrahMos is derived from the name of the two great rivers of both the nations, Brahmaputra and Moskva.
The missile can fly at 2.8 times the speed of sound and carry warheads up to 300 kg in weight, to a maximum range of 290 km. The missile is capable of being launched from multiple platforms - land, sea, sub-sea and air.