Hypersonic missiles are the future for India and Russia – new BrahMos Chief
BrahMos Aerospace has already signed an MoU with the Moscow Aviation Institute on the development of hypersonic missiles There is need to sign some more agreements between India and Russia, isn't it? Can you elaborate on this?
Both India and Russia have successfully demonstrated that if they work together they can create systems unparalleled in the world such as the BrahMos. DRDO in India is working on the hypersonic field and Russia is also working on it.
We want to bring number of institutions from India and Russia together to realize the best possible configuration. As you rightly mentioned we have signed a MoU with MAI through our JV partners NPO Mashinostroyenia for initiating necessary actions. They are getting the required approvals from the government to start the work.
Similarly we are working with DRDO and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in this field. Once all the permissions are received from both the governments, we will initiate this project. Right now, hypersonic is an evolving technology and it is the future for both the countries. I believe that we will be able to develop the missile as per our Vision 2050, maybe within 6 to 10 years.
Are there any expectations how much time it can take to get all these approvals?
It can take from 4 to 10 months.
BrahMos Aerospace promised that the BrahMos-A missile for SU-30MKI would be ready for induction by 2016? Are these plans still on?
Yes, I confirm that by this year end, we would conduct the first flight test of BrahMos-A with SU-30MKI and we will start deliveries in 2016 to the Indian Air Force. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bangalore and Sukhoi Design Bureau (SDB) with Indian Air Force are working very intensively to ensure that the missile flight test can be carried out by the year end and I am going personally this month to review the situation together with Chairman, HAL.
When is India planning to achieve 100 percent localization of BrahMos missile production?
As of now, we believe that it is a joint development programme. So the joint production also should take place in both the countries and we do not talk about percentage to develop the local production but the objective is to develop capacity building. The requirement, the demand is very high for BrahMos and right now, the objective is to deliver the missile in time to the users and if we do not deliver, then there is a problem. So we are trying to ensure the proportion, the agreed joint production ratio between India and Russia and make the delivery schedule. This is the first priority and only priority.
What we want is that 100 percent of the missile should be manufactured in India and 100 percent to be manufactured in Russia so that when big amount of deliveries are to be made, both the places can deliver but the capabilities should be available both in India and in Russia on 100 percent delivery basis.
And secondly, now there is an export potential for BrahMos. The government of India has declared that we would like to export our weapon system and India and Russia both have agreed that we will export the missile to mutually agreed countries we will identify together. So that would happen. When that happens, then there will be more demand for capacity building in both the countries, Russia as well as India. So we develop 100 percent capability, in Russia, you already have a 100 percent capability so that we can meet our commitments.
It takes some time. I have taken over only recently. I would like to study and then give answer exactly.
You mentioned the export potential of the BrahMos missiles. When are you planning to start exporting them?
First of all as per the IGA the missile can be exported to friendly countries of India and Russia. We have jointly worked out the list of countries. Export will be taken up on case to case basis with both the Indian and Russian governments for approval.
Secondly, the interest of India and Russia should not be affected in any way and thirdly, it should be only for defensive purpose, not for offensive purpose. So these are the basic fundamentals and we are talking to each other to ensure that export takes place but export is a very long process. So we are onto the process.
What do you think about the possibility of replicating the BrahMos Aerospace JV model in other areas between India and Russia?
First, I would like to convey to you that when I land in Moscow Airport, I feel that I have come to my second home. I have lived there for four years and I must have visited more than 20 times after that. I love the country, people and their culture and when it comes to successful joint venture, then I want to tell you that BrahMos is “THE” only joint venture in the defence sector anywhere in the world which enjoys this much success. This is because of the technology strength of both the countries, trust which we have posed in each other, confidence and our track record of meeting our commitment and commitment of delivery, meeting the dates and I feel that this joint venture has a great future. Many countries, they talk, they want to replicate BrahMos but you cannot copy the template. You can follow it up to a certain extent but the true spirit between India and Russia, it can exist only between Indians and Russians. It does not exist between any other country in the world.
Russia is going to participate in Project-75 India (P-75 I) tender, which entails the acquisition of another six submarines for the Indian Navy? Russian submarine will come along with BrahMos missiles installed. When do you expect this competition to happen?
We have demonstrated the capability of BrahMos by launching from a pontoon. Users have observed it, they have taken note of this and I am sure the kind of confidence users have shown in our other products, they would show in the submarine launch as well. Apart from this, we are going to develop the BrahMos-Mini as well. So BrahMos-Mini can be launched from a torpedo tube. We are planning, we are designing to do it from the torpedo tube. So it can be used there also as a standard weapon in all kind of submarines and users have to make up their mind what kind of weapon system they are looking for and we are telling the users that this is the weapon on the table, kindly have it. So RFP is not yet released. Let us wait and see.
Did you get the approval for this BrahMos-M (mini) development?
Not yet. It is under process.
When do you expect to get it?
I wanted it yesterday and I am chasing it to make it happen. I am sure DRDO has complete trust in this project and I bring that spirit from DRDO to BrahMos. So I am sure it would happen soon and you see it is science and technology. So it is very difficult to predict the duration, the time but I always feel that, I am very bullish about it, very optimistic, it should happen at the earliest and that is going to be my priority.
How much time would it take to develop this missile?
It should not take more than three years. The basic missile would be same and it would be adopted to meet the requirement of the services but the basic model, the basic financial managerial model which exists between India and Russia would be same, we would work on the same proportion. We would hold hand of each other in a similar way. It will be universal missile for Army, Air Force, Navy. It can be adopted to meet any requirement.
You need to sign some more documents with Russia for BrahMos-M also, don't you?
We would once finalised will have a Tripartite agreement between DRDO, NPOM and BrahMos. It would be like a wish to work together, a basic agreement, which will suggest three organisations are ready to start developing this missile. We hope to sign it by the year end.
What is this time needed for?
The reason is we are doing a feasibility study. We are studying whether the specifications are right or not, what all can be done, what we can do, what Russians can do. So before any big project, we need to sit and talk. So we are sitting and talking. We are evaluating the scientific parameters of various subsystems. It takes time.
Now there are many Indian tourists who are coming to Russia. What was the most interesting part of Russia for you?
For a tourist to come to Russia is its natural beauty and I pray that Russians will preserve it the way they have been preserving it, number one. Number two, the museums and church cathedrals in Petersburg, canals in Petersburg are very beautiful. Third, you have got all the resources in abundance. You have almost everything, sunshine, snow and for a tourist going from India Baikal Lake is the ultimate beauty. More than that, you see India and Russia have almost more than 70 years of relationship and the image in the minds of Indian people is that Russians are our true friends. So when they go if they go to Moscow, if they go to different places, they feel at home that yes, we are in the friend's home, nothing to fear about it.
You are new BrahMos chief now? Any missile dreams?
Yes, you see I worked in Hyderabad where the technology development for BrahMos has been done. I have been a member of the technical teams who have developed the technology for BrahMos from DRDO side and then I worked as a Programme Manager in the BrahMos project in DRDO. Then I visited Russia and there, I have conducted the visit of then-Indian President Dr. Abdul Kalam to Moscow, taken him to NPO Mash and conducted the visit of Defence Minister of India again to NPO Mash.
This feeling, this attachment, it created some kind of dream in the mind that it would be ultimate happiness, it would be ultimate professional dream to lead such a high technology programme in the world and for a mechanical engineer like me, nothing can be better than leading a team of experts who are world class, who are best in their profession who know how to deliver, how to meet user’s aspirations, it is a dream come true. I have witnessed the commitment, the courage, the endeavours of Indian specialists and Russian specialists, both. It gives me great satisfaction of being their leader and take BrahMos to a step up. More business, more technological challenges, early delivery, find a better way of doing the supply chain management. This itself is a lot of work.