Indian DefenceInternational

BrahMos: Game-Changer in Indo-Pacific

Country of Manufacture –

  • India, Russia

Designer/OEM Name

  • DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation), Govt. of India 
  • NPO Mashinostroyenia NPOM, Govt. of Russian Federation


  • Supersonic Anti-Ship/Land Attack Cruise Missile, Hypersonic Cruise missile, Air-launched cruise missile, Surface-to-surface missile


The BrahMos (PJ-10) is a supersonic cruise missile with a single warhead, powered by a ramjet engine and designed for short-range anti-ship/land attack capabilities. It is a collaborative effort between India and Russia, taking inspiration for its name from the Brahmaputra River in India and the Moskva River in Russia. Originating from the Russian SS-N-26 (3M55 Oniks/Yakhont/Bastion) cruise missile design.

A P-800 missile at Armia 2018

Key Facts Development & Milestones

  • BrahMos Aerospace Joint Venture was formed through an Inter-Governmental Agreement between India and Russia signed on 12th February 1998, with Defence Research and Development Organisation DRDO, Govt. of India and NPO Mashinostroyenia NPOM, Govt. of Russian Federation as shareholders. 
  • BrahMos Joint Venture Company is registered as a private enterprise at New Delhi as per the Company Act. BrahMos Aerospace is the designer, developer and producer of the World’s best Supersonic Cruise Missile known for its Speed, Precision and Lethality. It is the only universal missile which can be launched from Land, Sea and Air Platforms against sea and land targets making it the most versatile weapon system. 
  • BrahMos missile system is capable of launching either from inclined launcher or from vertical launchers installed onboard ships for destroying enemy ships. BrahMos has a core competence of designing the launchers for surface ships and interface of missile and launcher systems with the ship systems. 
  • The contract for procurement of BrahMos missiles has been signed with M/s BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited (BAPL) at a cost of Rs 19,518.65 crore. These missiles would be utilized to meet combat outfit and training requirements of Indian Navy. 
  • This project is likely to generate employment of nine lakh man-days in Joint Venture entity and around 135 lakh man-days in ancillary industries (including MSMEs) of the country. 
  • The contract for Procurement of Ship borne BrahMos system has also been signed with M/s BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited (BAPL) at a cost of Rs 988.07 crore. 
  • This system is the Indian Navy’s primary weapon for maritime strike operations fitted onboard various frontline warships. The system is capable of hitting land or sea targets from extended ranges with pinpoint accuracy at supersonic speeds. The project is likely to generate employment of around 60,000 man-days over a period of 7-8 years.
  • On June 12, 2001, the BrahMos missile had its inaugural successful launch. Later that same year, the BrahMos Missile made its debut appearance at the MAKS-1 exhibition in Moscow.
  • In 2005, the Indian Navy introduced the first batch of BrahMos Missiles into its arsenal.
  • In 2007, the BrahMos Missile System was formally inducted into the Indian Army.
  • On March 30, 2010, the Indian government reached an agreement with BrahMos Aerospace for the supply of BrahMos cruise missiles to the Indian Air Force. This agreement is distinct from another project aimed at equipping the air force with a smaller variant of the missile for the Sukhoi MKI fighter aircraft. Under this new agreement, the air force would acquire the Block II advanced variant of the missile, known for its more precise strike capabilities.
  • On September 6, 2010, the BrahMos cruise missile underwent a successful test at the Integrated Test Range in Chandipur, marking the missile’s 23rd test. This test revealed a new capability of the missile, showcasing a steep-dive mode where the missile descends vertically instead of gradually towards its target.
  • On March 4, 2012, the Indian Army conducted a successful test of a BrahMos land-attack cruise missile (LACM), indicating the operational readiness of a second BrahMos regiment within the Indian Army. Designed to engage targets within a 290km range, this missile would be deployed with an Army regiment situated in India’s western sector near Pakistan.
  • In 2013, the Submarine-launched version of the Brahmos missile underwent a successful test-fire.
  • In 2017, the BrahMos Missile was integrated with the Su-30MKI aircraft of the Indian Air Force and underwent a successful flight test.
  • On May 12, 2022, India successfully conducted a test-fire of the Extended Range Version of the BrahMos Air Launched missile from a Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft.


© AP Photo

The BRAHMOS supersonic cruise missile system serves as a precision strike armament deployable across the Army, Navy, and Air Force. This versatile missile can be integrated into various platforms such as ships, Mobile Launchers, Submarines, and Aircraft. 

BrahMos is renowned for its precision, dependability, user-friendly operation, swift reaction speed, and minimal vulnerability to countermeasures. With a range of 290 km and sustained supersonic speeds throughout its trajectory, this missile showcases the ability to target both land and naval objectives beyond the visible horizon. Its swift flight duration results in enhanced accuracy, reduced target spread, and expedited engagements. The BRAHMOS missile presents a broad spectrum of flight paths and functions on the principle of “Fire and Forget.”

The distinguishing features of the BrahMos PJ-10 include its reported supersonic speeds ranging from Mach 2.0 to 2.8, influenced by the cruising altitude employed. This rapid pace not only enhances its interception evasion capabilities but also amplifies its striking potency. Moreover, the BrahMos is furnished with stealth technology to heighten its radar invisibility and other detection evasion methods. It encompasses an inertial navigation system (INS) tailored for maritime target engagements and an INS/Global Positioning System for terrestrial target engagements. The guidance culminates through an active/passive radar system.

The BrahMos boasts a range of 300-500 km, contingent on the specific variant and launch platform employed. Its propulsion system comprises a solid propellant boost motor coupled with a liquidfuelled ramjet sustainer motor. 

Across all iterations, it features four clipped tip delta wings at the mid-body, complemented by four small delta control fins at the rear. The missile accommodates either a 200 or 300 kg high explosive semi-armor-piercing warhead or a 250 kg submunitions warhead. It can be initiated from various launch systems, including a vertical launch setup, a ramp launcher, or aerial launching. In a notable 2013 event, the missile was effectively launched from a submerged barge, showcasing its potential for future integration onto missile submarines.

Ship Based Weapon System – BrahMos missile system is capable of launching either from inclined launcher or from vertical launchers installed onboard ships for destroying enemy ships:

  • High lethality with greater effectiveness  Land attack Anti-ship capability. 
  • Large engagement envelop. 
  • Waypoint capabilities 
  • High-rate salvo 
  • Underwater Launch capability 
  • All weather day night operation 
  • Maritime superiority for littoral and coastal operations

Land Based Weapon System – The BRAHMOS Missile System, when deployed on land, is engineered for precise strikes against high-threat or well-defended targets on land within a range of 290 kilometres. Similarly, the Coastal Defence System is tailored for accurate strikes against highthreat or fortified targets at sea within a range of 290 kilometres. 

  • Maximum engagement radius 
  • Network Centric Architecture 
  • Minimum Deployment 
  • Time Land Attack 
  • Anti-Ship Capabilities 
  • All weather day night operation 
  • Waypoint capabilities

Air Launched Weapon System – The BrahMos Missile System, when launched from aircraft, is engineered for precise strikes against high-threat or well-defended targets at sea or on land within a range of 290 kilometres. The cutting-edge launcher system, along with the Peripheral Control Device, has been domestically designed and developed for the system’s launch. This system has been effectively integrated with the Su-30MKI fighter aircraft.

  • High Standoff range Air to Land Air to Anti-Ship Capabilities 
  • Precision Strike with Improved penetration against hardened targets 
  • Open integration architecture with air platform.

BrahMos Versions

Hypersonic Variant :

BrahMos-II Hypersonic Model

In addition to the supersonic version of the Brahmos, India and Russia are also collaborating on a hypersonic version of the missile. Reports suggest that the Brahmos-II will be powered by a scramjet engine rather than the ramjet version. Russian defense officials have also claimed that the missile will reach the Mach 5 threshold required to be classified as hypersonic by using a special new fuel. It is a planned hypersonic cruise missile currently under joint development by Brahmos Aerospace.

It is expected to have a range of 1,500 km and a speed of Mach 8. 

Since, India is now a signatory of the MTCR, Russia can transfer technologies for longer ranges.  According to reports published in April 2023, India has requested Russia to transfer the technology (ToT) of Russian 3M22 Zircon hypersonic cruise missile on which the BrahMos-II (K) will be based upon.  BrahMos Aerospace named the missile BrahMos-II (K) in honour of the former President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam.

Brahmos-NG (Future versions of Brahmos)

Brahmos NG stands for Brahmos Next Generation. It is envisioned as a smaller and lighter but smarter weapon having high versatility, lethality and flexibility along with ultra-precision for deployment onboard a wide range of military platforms.  Key features:

  • Reduced dimension & weight for widespread range
  • Advanced next generation stealth
  • Greater effectiveness against ECCM
  • Higher versatility in underwater combat applications
  • Launch readiness from Torpedo tube and vertical orientation.
BrahMos (PJ-10)Details
OriginRussia, India
PossessionRussian, India
OperationGround-launched, Air-launched, Sub-launched, Ship-launched
Length9000 mm (Land/Naval Variant) 8500 mm (Air Variant)
Diameter700 mm (Land/naval Variant) 650 mm (Air Variant)
Launch Weight3000 kg (Land/Naval Variant) 2550 kg (Air Variant)
Payload200-300 kg 
WarheadHE, Submunitions
PropulsionLiquid-fuelled ramjet
Range300-500 km, 290 km export version
AltitudeCruise – 15 Kms Terminal – 10-15 m                                                      
Current Operators (As of May 2024)India, Philippines

Also Read, PM Modi’s Defence Triumphs: A Decade Overview

BrahMos Competitor Analysis

  • The Tomahawk cruise missile, developed by the US, stands out as one of the most notable missiles globally. It operates at subsonic speeds, around 0.8 Mach, and has an approximate cost of US$ 1.7 million per unit. With a range surpassing 1,600 km, it outreaches the BrahMos; however, its slower speed renders it comparatively easier to intercept. Due to its range exceeding 300 km, the US restricts its sale to non-MTCR member states, limiting potential buyers significantly.
  • Thus far, the Tomahawk has only been exported to the UK and Australia. A similar scenario applies to another US missile. The Joint Air to Surface Stand-off Missile (JASSM) shares the Tomahawk’s subsonic characteristics. It comes in three versions with varying ranges: 370 km, 1,000 km, and 1,800 km, priced from USD $ 1–1.5 million depending on the range.
  • Austria, Finland, and Poland are among the countries that have imported the JASSM. 
  • Moving to the French Apache series, it’s a notable cruise missile boasting a top speed of 1 Mach. It has been embraced by UAE, Greece, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and Italy, apart from France itself.
  • In 2014, China introduced the YJ-1814 into the PLA. With a range spanning 220–540 km, it operates at subsonic speeds before accelerating to supersonic levels in the terminal phase. Although China authorized its export in 2021, it hasn’t been exported yet.
  • On the Russian front, the P-800 Oniks is a supersonic cruise missile with attributes akin to BrahMos, reaching speeds of up to 2.2 Mach. An export variant, limited to a 300 km range, was reportedly sold to Indonesia in 2009 for US$ 1.25 million, considerably less than the BrahMos.

The Brahmos supersonic cruise missile system’s strategic importance is noteworthy as India shifts from its longstanding reluctance towards arms exports. 

Approval has been obtained, with both India and Russia agreeing “in principle” to export the Brahmos missile to countries like UAE, Vietnam, South Africa, and Chile. Brahmos Aerospace also intends to market the missile to several other nations, having held talks with Philippines, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Egypt, Algeria, Singapore, Greece, Venezuela, and Bulgaria. China has understandably voiced objections to India selling weapons to Vietnam. However, the current Indian government remains steadfast in its decision to pursue the sale. Vietnam has sought to acquire this missile for the past five years, but the previous UPA government was hesitant to approve the sale due to ongoing conflicts between Vietnam and China in the South China Sea. Selling the Brahmos missile to Vietnam would strengthen its deterrent capabilities against China.

The missile features stealth capabilities, and its Doppler inertial navigation platform has been enhanced with advanced Global Positioning System (GPS) and Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) satellite navigation systems. Operating on the “fire and forget” principle, manufacturers claim it to be a highly lethal missile capable of striking targets with pinpoint accuracy, possessing nine times the kinetic energy of conventional subsonic cruise missiles.

With a warhead of 300 kg and a maximum range of 290 km, the Indian Navy integrated Brahmos in 2005 on the INS Rajput destroyer. All upcoming Navy ships and those undergoing mid-life upgrades will be equipped with this missile. The ship-launched anti-ship version can fly at supersonic speeds, skimming the sea at just 3 m – 4 m height for a stealthy attack on enemy ships.

The missile is fully operational with three regiments of the Indian Army, and two more regiments are set for induction soon. A submarine-launched variant has also been developed, with submarine trials completed in March 2013 off the coast of Vishakhapatnam. Capable of vertical launch from submarines 40 m to 50 m deep, the Brahmos submarine version could potentially be utilized in Vietnam’s Kilo class submarines.  India successfully carried out the maiden test firing of the over 290 km-range submarine-launched version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile in the Bay of Bengal becoming the first country in the world to have this capability.

The interest shown in Brahmos on the global market suggests substantial potential for exporting the missile. Numerous friendly countries have expressed interest in various versions of the system. India should capitalize on this opportunity and pursue export sales vigorously, overcoming its traditional hesitancy toward military sales. 

While India is the world’s largest arms importer, China has ascended as the third-largest arms exporter. The attraction towards Brahmos presents India with a chance to bolster its arms exports significantly.

Former Brahmos Aerospace CEO and Managing Director A Sivathanu Pillai believes India could engage in cruise missile exports worth nearly $100 billion, given Brahmos’ superiority over the U.S. Tomahawk missile. The Modi government’s “Make in India” initiative aims to elevate India’s arms exports from $150 million in 2015 to $3 billion by 2025, positioning India as a major arms exporter globally.

Amid China’s aggressive behaviour, it’s crucial for India to maintain close ties with Vietnam, Japan, the USA, Australia, and other friendly nations. China’s opposition to India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) entry and its adversarial activities necessitate India’s preparedness alongside friendly countries. Vietnam may become the first country to receive the Brahmos missile, bolstering India’s arms exports and regional influence vis-à-vis China and Pakistan. 

Partnerships & Investments

In recent times, the Indian government has actively promoted collaborative efforts by inviting foreign partners to invest in technology, choose local partners, manufacture goods in India, and provide solutions to the Indian military. This approach creates opportunities for carefully considered exports.

Therefore, the sale of the BrahMos missile system to the Philippines is not just a commercial transaction. It represents the success of the joint venture model embraced by the Indian government.

The Government of India continues to take steps to boost defense exports. India’s varied geographical features, including deserts, coastlines, mountainous regions, and semi-arid areas, have led to the thoughtful development of specialized equipment tailored to these unique environments. Some of the indigenous equipment with significant export potential includes…

  • BrahMos Missile System
  • Pinaka Multi-Barrel Rocket Launch Systems
  • Akash Air Defence Systems
  • Tejas Fighter Aircraft
  • Helicopters (Dhruv and Rudra)
  • ASW corvettes
  • Advanced OPVs
  • Patrol boats, interceptor boats
  • Torpedoes, sonars, buoys
  • Radars
  • Artillery guns
  • Anti-tank missiles
  • Mine protected vehicles

The Philippines expressed interest in purchasing the BrahMos missile as far back as 2016. Negotiations reportedly began in 2019 for the acquisition of two mobile batteries for the Philippine Army as part of the Land-Based Missile System (LBMS) program.

A (G2G) government-to-government agreement on defense equipment procurement between the Philippines and India was signed on March 2, 2021, paving the way for the sale of the missile to the Philippines. The Philippines Department of National Defense issued a notice of award on January 12, 2022, indicating the government’s approval to procure the BrahMos shore-based anti-ship missile system from India.

With the signing ceremony today, the Philippines becomes the first export customer of the BrahMos missile. According to India’s DRDO, this contract marks a significant step in the Government of India’s strategy to promote responsible defense exports.

The Philippines is concerned about the growing influence of the People’s Liberation Army Navy

(PLAN or Chinese Navy), particularly their control over many islets in the region. Procuring the BrahMos missile would provide the Philippines with a means to deter China’s expansionism and partially restore the military balance between the two countries.

Also Read, Azerbaijan Considers Procurement of JF-17 Fighter Jets From Pakistan

How Will other Nations View the Recent Sale of BrahMos Missiles Between India and the Philippines? 

The batch was transported on an Indian Air Force aircraft that landed in Philippines 
  • Reactions are likely to vary widely. Some countries may view this as an opportunity to seek similar defense assistance from India, while others might perceive it as a potential threat to their own market share and customer base, leading to feelings of envy.
  • Although neither India nor the Philippines directly mentioned China in this context, both countries are expected to deploy the BrahMos missile system along their disputed boundaries with China, notably in the Himalayas and the South China Sea, respectively. 
  • However, given China’s advanced missile defense systems and growing hypersonic missile capabilities, the BrahMos deal alone is unlikely to significantly alter the regional military balance in the near term. Its true significance lies in the potential for more substantial defense deals in the future, reflecting India’s expanding industrial-military complex and its increasing focus on Southeast Asia in response to China’s rise.
  • India’s proactive defense diplomacy has successfully secured potential customers for its advanced weapons systems, particularly the BrahMos supersonic missile. This aligns with 
  • New Delhi’s efforts to enhance regional security cooperation amidst escalating superpower rivalry in the broader Indo-Pacific region.
  • The BrahMos missile’s range covers a significant number of contested land features in the South
  • China Sea, including areas near Philippine shores. This acquisition is seen as crucial by Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who emphasized the need to protect the country’s territory and national interests.
  • While China has fortified its occupied islands with upgraded missile systems, the recent defense deal between the Philippines and India is not expected to immediately tip the military balance in the region. However, it signals potential future shifts in defense strategies.
  • The BrahMos Aerospace chief highlighted that this landmark deal could pave the way for more comprehensive defense agreements, including next-generation missile systems like the BrahMos II hypersonic missile. This development underscores India’s growing role in global arms exports and its strategic position amidst evolving geopolitical dynamics.
  • The evolving landscape suggests that India’s defense industry must continue advancing long-range cruise missile technologies to counter potential threats from China and Pakistan, leveraging advantages such as cost-effectiveness, mobility, and operational versatility. Building and sustaining alliances will be crucial in navigating this new-age arms export environment.

Sheikh Akhter

Warfare & Defense Systems l Military Equipment Intelligence | OSINT I Content, Insights & Strategy | Leadership | Solutions | Policy | A&D Consulting

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Back to top button
Translate »