New Delhi: Indo-Russian joint venture (JV) firm BrahMos Aerospace is planning for a major expansion by gradually increasing the range of their exclusive missiles while also looking at exporting to other countries, starting with the Philippines.
According to the Deputy Chief of Mission, Russian Embassy in India, Roman Babushkin, India and Russia are going to see “big developments” in defence ties in the coming months.
“One of the flagship projects is the JV Brahmos, all tests of contemporary versions are successful. Planning to gradually increase the range of these exclusive missiles and, of course, begin exporting to third countries, starting with the Philippines. This is a continuous process,” Babushkin said Thursday during a virtual media conference.
The JV was founded in 1998 to develop, manufacture and export the BrahMos cruise missile. Last month, the Indian Air Force successfully test-fired an air-launched version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from a Sukhoi fighter aircraft in the Bay of Bengal.
In September, India test-fired the supersonic cruise missile BrahMos having a range of around 400 km.
Babushkin said both sides are aiming at “efficient, timely and — importantly — early implementation of all deals”, including the $5.4 billion S-400 Triumf air defence system.
Babushkin said the first batch of the S-400 missiles will arrive in India by the end of 2021.
He also said some of the other defence deals such as the AK-203 contract, under which more than 7 lakh items are to be produced as part of the JV Indo-Russian Rifles in India, and the $2 billion deal for Ka-226 helicopters wherein 140 of 200 units will be produced in India are at the “final stages of consideration”.
“Apart from these, advanced cooperation is going on combat aviation (including Su-30 MKI programme), main battle tanks (T90), frigates, submarines, missiles … We are also looking forward to an early implementation of the spare parts joint production agreement, which also fits well in ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ programmes. We welcome further dialogue on technology sharing, localisation and joint ventures as well as prospective partnership in the framework of Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu Industrial Corridors,” he added.
This comes at a time when India is looking to forge ties with US President-elect Joe Biden and his administration. Under the Donald Trump administration, India had come under considerable fire from the US through the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
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Moscow ‘concerned’ over India-China tensions
According to Babushkin, while Moscow continues to remain “concerned” with ongoing border tensions between India and China, it is hopeful of a peaceful resolution to the standoff, which is in its seventh month now.
“Russia is in a unique position since it has special and strategic partnership relations with both India and China, and these relationships are independent in nature. We are naturally concerned with India-China current tensions. However, we believe that a peaceful solution is inevitable, better sooner than later,” he said.
However, Babushkin cautioned that amid global turbulence, if both sides do not settle the matter soon, “other players” might take advantage of the situation.
“It is clear that amid global turbulence and unpredictability, escalation between India and China would further affect regional instability in our common home — Eurasia, while escalation, as we are witnessing, can be misused by other players for geopolitical purposes,” he added.
Babushkin also highlighted the role being played by Russia in bringing stability in the region since it is the chair this year for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS Summit.
‘Won’t accept attempts to create alienation lines’
Asked what were Russia’s views on the recently held Quadrilateral Security Dialogue and ongoing Malabar naval exercise, Babushkin said these are seen as creating “alienation lines”.
“An Indo-Pacific strategy is actively promoted by the Quad, but the understanding of this strategy is different even in the member-states. Let’s be very clear that it’s too early to expand this strategy to the whole region, and a comprehensive, all-inclusive, open-minded and forward-looking dialogue would be further required,” he said.
Babushkin added, “We don’t accept attempts to create alienation lines in the region by promoting the philosophy of restricted security blocs and imposing forced changes in supply chains for geopolitical reasons. It leads to even more mistrust and eventually brings Indo-Pacific ideas away from the regional consensus, replacing cooperation with competition and even rivalry.”
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India’s potential sale of Brahmos missiles to Philippines is thus in violation of MTCR rules or any commitments that India made when it became an MTCR member in June 2016. This will have serious rather damaging consequences on the nonproliferation regime besides compelling the other regional states to acquire such weapons system.
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