The BrahMos test: a big boost
India’s technological capabilities got a firm endorsement in the successful launch of the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile, gravity-dropped from a long-range Sukhoi fighter. The IAF becomes the world’s first air force to launch a multi-platform, multi-mission, self-propelled attack missile of this kind, that can potentially reach Pakistani targets in the west and in Tibet in the east with 99.99 per cent accuracy. Variants can be designed to be deployed on Rafales and advanced medium combat jets too. Advanced versions of the missile are already on the drawing board, to double their reach and speed and to add a submarine launch capability. More significant, India’s ‘triad’ of capabilities to launch the missiles from land, sea or air enhances its strategic deterrence prowess in a surcharged region.
Beyond the technical details of what was achieved and what is possible in the near future, what the BrahMos venture’s success signifies is the durability of India-Russia ties. In the history of defence relationships, Russia has always been free and forthcoming, and has not denied India any state-of-the-art weapons technology unless specifically barred by international agreements. This relationship has been so stable over time that it irks the Chinese. The current vibrations may be different in a changing world order, but India shouldn’t dilute its defence ties with Russia. There’s no reason why India would be compelled to go the whole hog in favour of the United States and the West when Russia has been an all-weather friend. There is really no need to choose one or the other as India is in a good position. The supersonic missile only proves this.