THAILAND IN TALKS WITH INDIA TO BUY BRAHMOS CRUISE MISSILES
The two navies are working closely in the areas of disaster risk management, maritime security safety, information sharing and interoperability
In possibly the second sale of BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles to another country, Thailand is in talks with India for their purchase, official sources said. A few other countries have also expressed interest in BrahMos but nothing has fructified yet.
“Negotiations are on. It may not happen this year, but most likely next year,” diplomatic sources said. While Thailand expressed interest in the missiles some time back, discussions picked pace after the visit of Royal Thai Navy Chief Admiral Ruddit to India in December last year.
Thailand, characterized by its extensive cooperation with China, has turned its attention to strengthening its ties with other nations, notably India. Under the allure of India’s fastest cruise missile – BrahMos – which is currently in service for all three branches of the Indian military, this collaboration presents a new phase in Thailand’s geopolitical alignments.
BrahMos Aerospace, after achieving an important milestone with their advanced supersonic cruise missile being stationed in the vicinity of China through the Philippines, has embarked on dialogues with numerous prospective customers, including Thailand, where ongoing discussions have endured for a considerable period.
Detailed information about the missile system was accorded to the Thai Defence Minister, Sutin Klungsang on November 6. At the commencement day of Defence Security 2023 at IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, the Director of Market Promotion and Export, Praveen Pathak, briefed a high-ranking delegation led by Minister Klungsang about the latest advancements within the BrahMos weapon complex and the BrahMos Pavilion.
The high commendations bestowed on the weapon complex’s capabilities and expressed interest in the BrahMos missile system by Minister Klungsang were acknowledged by BrahMos’s handle on X.
Although Thailand showcased its interest in the missile system earlier, the pace of negotiations amped up in the wake of the visit of Royal Thai Navy Chief Admiral Ruddit to India in December 2018. The discussions continue to progress at present.
Considered valuable by China partly due to its geolocation near Bangkok that provides direct access to the Gulf of Thailand eventually leading to the South China Sea, Thailand is rapidly emerging as a hotbed of modernization in the Southeast Asian landscape.
The newly formed civilian coalition administration within Thailand might intensify its engagement with the Western democracies while preserving the prevalent ties with China, established by the preceding military-led government.
And although the contemporary civilian government in Thailand might not sever all ties with China, the desire to diversify its relationships with other countries is evident. Therefore, India will need to strategize effectively to conclude the deal with Thailand successfully.
The BrahMos missile is designed to engage surface targets, complete with the ability to fly at a minimum altitude of five meters and soaring up to 15,000 meters. The missile itself is considerably sized, with a diameter of 70cm and a wingspan of 1.7m.
Its velocity reaches up to Mach 3.5, with a maximum reach of 650 km. Both the maritime and terrestrial versions can hold a 200 kg warhead, while the airborne variant, known as BrahMos A, boasts the capacity for a 300 kg warhead. The two-staged propulsion system utilizes a solid-propellant rocket for starting acceleration, followed by a liquid-fuelled ramjet to maintain a sustained supersonic cruise.
The usage of air-breathing ramjet propulsion contributes to its efficient fuel usage, providing the BrahMos with a more substantial range compared to a missile solely powered by rocket propulsion.
When compared with lighter subsonic cruise missiles such as the Tomahawk, the BrahMos’s high-speed functionality provides greater target-penetration capability. Despite the BrahMos possessing half the payload and a fraction of the Tomahawk’s range, being twice as heavy and nearly four times faster results in the BrahMos possessing over 32 times the kinetic energy during cruise. This implies that this missile was developed for a distinct tactical role.
With its Mach 2.8 speed, an interception by certain missile defense systems is unattainable; paired with its precision, it makes the BrahMos missile a formidable threat to maritime targets.
Initially designed as an anti-marine missile, the BrahMos Block-III can also be deployed towards land-based targets. It provides flexibility in launching positions, allowing for both vertical and inclined positioning. Its 360-degree target coverage further compounds its capabilities.
All versions of the BrahMos missile- terrestrial, aquatic, and subterranean- possess a virtually identical configuration. Extra tail fins and a diminished booster are features specific to the airborne variant for added stability during lift-off.
The current configuration of the BrahMos supports aerial deployment, with the Su-30MKI being the chosen carrier. The BrahMos missile set a record on 5 September 2010 as the first supersonic to perform a steep dive. A “fire-and-forget” system is utilized by the missile, eliminating the necessity for operator intervention post-launch.