Business & Defence

BrahMos Missile Export Hit Hurdle Over Russian Sanctions, Accidental Firing?

BrahMos Aerospace is an Indian-Russian joint venture that makes supersonic cruise missiles that may be launched from submarines, ships, planes, or ground vehicles. The Philippines awarded India a $375 million contract to deliver three BrahMos ground-based anti-ship missile systems in a first-of-its-kind deal for BrahMos missiles.

In March, two months after the agreement, an unarmed BrahMos missile landed in Pakistani territory, causing concern. India eventually confessed that the missile was launched inadvertently by the country.

Manila, as the missile’s first purchaser, is said to be keeping a close eye on the situation. The Southeast Asian country has demanded clarification on the event from India’s representative.

India’s envoy to the Philippines, Shambhu Kumaran, told the media that Manila had raised some concerns about the incident, and that he had spoken with Defense Secretary Delfin Negrillo Lorenzana about it.

“I did have an opportunity to interact with Defense Secretary Lorenzana and I clarified… there was obviously a query and we responded with the fact that there was no technical issue as far as we could understand and that there was an inquiry underway and that will be cleared out once the information is available,” he said.

However, Manila’s fears go beyond the mishap that sparked a diplomatic spat with its longtime enemy Pakistan.

According to Kumaran, India’s sale of the BrahMos missile to the Philippines is a bilateral arrangement that will not be harmed by Western sanctions against Russia and its defence industry. On April 5, he spoke in an online event hosted by Ananta Centre.

“I believe it is critical that we retain the fact that this is an India-Philippines business. “I don’t want to minimise the fact that Russia and India created and manufactured the weapons system, and there is a major element of Russian assistance in the system,” he stated.

“But this is obviously an India-Philippines business,” he added, “and I am fairly sure that we will be able to move forward on a bilateral basis.”

To isolate Russia from the global system, NATO and US partners have implemented five tranches of devastating sanctions. Indian defence experts and ex-servicemen had already expressed alarm about a potential supply chain disruption.

Furthermore, India has been considering a plan to get around the sanctions by trading in Rupee-Rouble mode. The feasibility of that trade, however, is under jeopardy as Western pressure on India to denounce and sanction Russia grows.

Could Russia’s War Be a Doomsday?

The missile system’s engine and seekers were most likely provided by Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM), which conceived, modified, and produced BrahMos in a joint venture with India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

There are fears that the restrictions could jeopardise India’s first large offshore agreement with Manila, which was announced by the Ministry of Defense to increase the country’s defence exports to $5 billion by 2025, and may be disastrous for India if technical or supply chain challenges arise.

In addition, the US has warned India that if it aligns with Russia, it would face consequences. Earlier, the US Deputy National Security Adviser stated that if China breaches the LAC again, Moscow will not come to India’s assistance.

Washington has been attempting to persuade India to abandon its energy and defence needs to Russia in favour of other accessible options, possibly in the West.

India is significantly reliant on Russia not only for imports, but also for logistics and maintenance spare parts. The BrahMos’ fate appears to be uncertain because it is a cooperative venture between India and Russia. However, India has assured the Philippines that there will be no negative consequences.

The BrahMos has gotten a lot of attention from all across the world. The Philippines, as well as Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), are rumoured to be interested in buying the Brahmos.

Sources claim that India has held similar discussions with Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, and South Africa. The accidental firing, which has brought Russia into shame, as well as sanctions against Russia, may cast a pall over BrahMos export.

Impact On BrahMos Sales

The present incidents’ implications for India’s long-term export goals. “People must comprehend.” Even spacecraft have been known to crash on takeoff. Accidents happen for a variety of reasons, including a lack of expert understanding or a dumb move.

It was both in this circumstance. Let’s cross our fingers that one of these mishaps does not have a negative consequence. The missile’s sales and export potential will be unaffected by Russian restrictions because India is nearly self-sufficient in its production.”

Former Air Vice Marshal Pranay Sinha, on the other hand, takes a slightly different viewpoint. “This was an unintentional fire – human error situation,” “and will have no impact on potential buyers.” However, the Russia-Ukraine conflict may have an impact on parts and aggregates,” he said without going into detail.

While there are differing perspectives in the security and diplomatic communities given the current state of affairs, India’s political relationships with countries and its standing as a regional challenger to China may help it to export the BrahMos.

“Because India utilises it extensively, there is clearly a degree of faith in the system,” Kumaran added. The fact that India has offered the Philippines absolute guarantee could indicate that it does not see a danger to BrahMos manufacturing and delivery at this time. For India, it may be a case of ‘wait and see.’

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