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Was it a missile? Was it BrahMos? India probing Pakistani claim of airspace intrusion

Pakistan has claimed a missile without warhead entered its airspace from India. While its description of missile matches that of BrahMos, sources said no projectile was aimed at Pakistan.

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New Delhi: The Indian defence establishment is looking into the claims of the Pakistan military’s Thursday night assertion of a missile without warhead entering its airspace Wednesday. Pakistan has claimed that the missile came from near Sirsa in Haryana, and was headed to the Mahajan Field Firing range in Rajasthan but veered westwards, entering Pakistan.

A statement on the issue is likely to be released by the Indian side later Friday.

Multiple sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint that the matter is being looked into, but refrained from giving any information on the subject. However, they indicated that a statement is likely to be issued by the evening.

The description of the projectile by Pakistan matches that of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, which has been in service in India for years and is known for its high accuracy.

The missile, which now has a range of over 400 KMs compared to the earlier ones, is one of the most dependable long range cruise missile in India’s arsenal.

Sources underlined that while they are trying to ascertain the claims of the Pakistani military, the fact is that no such projectile, which Pakistan said did not have a warhead, was aimed at Pakistan.

Pakistan Friday morning also summoned India’s Charge d’Affaires to lodge a protest over the unprovoked violation of its airspace by an Indian origin ‘super-sonic flying object’.

What Pakistan claims

In a late-nigh press conference Thursday, Pakistan’s military spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar said, “On March 9, at 6:43 pm, a high speed flying object was picked up inside the Indian territory… From initial course, it deviated and entered Pakistan territory and fell in Pakistani territory, causing some damage to civilian installations, but no loss of life was reported”.

He said the projectile crashed in Mian Channu, Khanewal district of Punjab Wednesday night.

Replying to a question, Iftikhar said that it was more likely a supersonic unarmed surface-to-surface to missile, but investigation is on to ascertain its true nature.

He also claimed that the projectile was flying at 40,000 feet and had endangered many airplanes which were in the Pakistan airspace at that time, adding that the projectile travelled about 207 km before falling down.

Description matches that of BrahMos

Sources said that the description so far matches that of the BrahMos supersonic missile and the fact that there was no warhead means it was a test firing.

However, they remained mum on whether it was actually a BrahMos or not.

Both Army and the Air Force have the BrahMos missile in its arsenal. The Indian Air Force also has the air-launched BrahMos, which are fired from Su 30 MKI, besides surface-to-surface missiles.

Sources explained that the flight path taken by the BrahMos depends on the target. For example, when it is ship launched, the missile goes up and then cruises just above the sea.

In the surface-to-surface version, the missiles can go up several feet, depending on how far the target is and then cruise at various levels, sources explained.

While Sirsa does not have a BrahMos base, the missile system is operated from specialised trucks and can be moved from one location to the another. Such missile tests usually happens on the Eastern flank and from the Andaman and Nicobar Command.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

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