Artillery: Indian Army Gets Ship Busting Missile

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March 17, 2006: The Indian army has received the first PJ-10 BrahMos missile. This is the land attack version, launched from a truck. The four ton missile has a range of 300 kilometers and a 550 pound warhead. Perhaps the most striking characteristic of the BrahMos is its high speed, literally faster (at up to 3,000 feet per second) than a rifle bullet.

India and Russia also offer the PJ-10 BrahMos cruise missile for export sale. The weapon was a joint development project that entered service this year. The first versions of the PJ-10 were fired from the air, from ships or submarines. The maximum speed of 3,000 kilometers an hour makes it harder to intercept, and means it takes five minutes or less to reach its target. The air launched version weighs 2.5 tons, the others, three tons or more. The 29 foot long, 700mm diameter missile is an upgraded version of the Russian SS-NX-26 (Yakhont) missile, which was in development when the Cold War ended in 1991. Lacking money to finish development and begin production, the Russian manufacturer made a deal with India to finish the job. India put up most of the $240 million needed to finally complete two decades of development. The PJ-10 is being built in Russia, with India as the initial customer. China and Iran have also expressed interest in the weapon. Each PJ-10 costs about $2.3 million.

Note that SS-NX-26 (Yakhont)/ BrahMos was developed as an aircraft carrier killer. That's why it has the high speed and elaborate guidance system. And that's why it's so expensive. A similar American weapon, the ATACMS rocket, also has a range of 300 kilometers, uses GPS guidance, and has a 500 pound warhead. ATACMS costs a million dollars each. The land version of BrahMos would be an effective coast defense weapon. For example, if the Iranians got several dozen land launched BrahMos missiles, they could pose a real threat to any ships using the Straits of Hormuz. In other words, the BrahMos missile could close those straits, through which most of the worlds oil supplies pass. Russia would benefit from that, because the price of their oil exports would climb. India would not like it, as they import oil from the Persian Gulf. India is supposed to have a veto over who can buy BrahMos.

 


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