LiveFist EXCLUSIVE: The Truth About BrahMos - Part I

Part I
Why Russia Won't Induct BrahMos

There's this fake earnest tone that everyone takes when they ask: Why is Russia not inducting the BrahMos? I mean, honestly, they're our partners, so isn't it a little suspicious that our equal partner won't induct it?

Well, last month, Moscow forwarded an unsolicited note to the Indian government, after the issue was taken up suo moto by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in December 2007. In it, the hard truth, one that the mandarins who worked the BrahMos deal knew all about before the deal went through, but did nothing to sidestep it or account for it in any way. The note contained a line that runs as follows:

"The Russian Federation is constitutionally barred from inducting into operational commission any weapons or weapon systems that are not manufactured wholly by government controlled units or agencies under the Russian Federation and on Russian territory."

When the BrahMos joint venture agreement was signed in 1998 through an inter-governmental pact (for execution between DRDO and NPO Mashinostroyenia), the contract said that the JV would jointly develop and manufacture missiles for the Republic of India, Russian Federation and friendly countries identified after due and subsequent consulations between both.

Generally speaking, this meant that both countries would induct the missile. But here's the glitch: how could Russia agree to such a clause if it knew it couldn't induct the BrahMos to begin with? The Indian side was caught sleeping, while a meaningless clause was pushed into the contract. The Russians got the money to see a project through, but have never had any intention to induct the missile. I mean, how could they! Their constitution, it now emerges, bars them from doing so.

India makes the inertial navigation system (INS) and the fire control system of the missile. Final integration of the missile system takes place in India. Ergo, no go for Moscow. Very convenient.

There's more: Russia has no plans to make any constitutional amendments or induct the BrahMos at any time. The programme -- a technological extention of the Yakhont/Onyx programme -- was bailed financially by New Delhi. And here's something else that's really angering our men and women at BrahMos in Kirby place: the Russians have invested in a fresh new variant of the Yakhont/Onyx at their own expense, with the intention to field it as an export cruise missile like the BrahMos. So what happens to BrahMos then? Well, it'll be inducted in large numbers into the Indian armed forces. What about costs? And what about exports? There's dirt there too.

(Tomorrow Part II: How Russia Continues to Shortchange India on BrahMos)

Photo ┬ęCopyright Reuters, reproduced from The Tribune

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