The Indian defence establishment is probing into Pakistan’s military’s claim on Thursday night that a missile without a warhead had entered its airspace on Wednesday. According to Pakistan, the missile originated in Sirsa in Haryana and was on its way to the Mahajan Field Firing Range in Rajasthan when it deviated westwards and entered Pakistan.
The Indian side is expected to publish a statement on the matter later Friday.
Several individuals in the defence and security establishment informed ThePrint that the matter is being investigated, but they declined to provide any further details. They did say, though, that a statement will be published by the evening.
Pakistan’s description of the projectile is identical to that of India’s BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, which has been in service for years and is recognised for its pinpoint precision. The missile, which has a range of over 400 kilometres compared to previous versions, is one of India’s most reliable long-range cruise missiles.
Sources stressed that, while they investigate the Pakistani military’s assertions, the truth remains that no such projectile, which Pakistan claimed lacked a warhead, was intended at Pakistan. Pakistan summoned India’s Charge d’Affaires on Friday morning to protest an unprovoked breach of its airspace by a’super-sonic flying object’ of Indian origin.
“On March 9, at 6:43 pm, a high speed flying object was picked up inside the Indian territory,” Pakistan’s military spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar stated in a late-night press conference Thursday. It strayed from its initial course and fell in Pakistani territory, causing considerable damage to civilian installations but no casualties.”
According to him, the rocket landed in Mian Channu, Punjab’s Khanewal district, on Wednesday night.
Iftikhar said it was most likely a supersonic unarmed surface-to-surface missile in response to an inquiry, but an investigation is underway to determine its true nature.
He further stated that the projectile was flying at 40,000 feet and had threatened many planes in Pakistani airspace at the time, and that it had travelled 207 kilometres before crashing.
The description is the same as BrahMos’.
According to sources, the description thus far fits that of the BrahMos supersonic missile, and the absence of a warhead indicates that it was a test shot.
They remained tight-lipped about whether it was a BrahMos or not.
The BrahMos missile is used by both the Army and the Air Force. In addition to surface-to-surface missiles, the Indian Air Force has air-launched BrahMos, which are fired from Su 30 MKIs.
According to sources, the BrahMos’ flight path is determined by the target. When a missile is launched from a ship, for example, it rises and cruises just above the water’s surface. The missiles in the surface-to-surface variant can rise several feet, depending on how far away the target is, and then cruise at varying heights, according to sources.
While there is no BrahMos base in Sirsa, the missile system is operated from specialised trucks that can be transferred from one site to another. Such missile tests are normally conducted from the Andaman and Nicobar Command’s eastern flank.