Surface Forces: An Expensive Solution


p> March 9, 2008: India tested one of its new BrahMos missiles against a land target, with the missile being fired from a ship that was 300 kilometers away from the target on one of the uninhabited Andaman islands. The PJ-10 BrahMos is a 3.2 ton missile, that has a max range of 300 kilometers, and a 660 pound warhead. Perhaps the most striking characteristic of the BrahMos is its high speed, literally faster (at up to 3,000 feet per second) than a rifle bullet. The missile is used by the army, navy and air force. The high speed makes the missile much more effective as an anti-ship missile, as it gives the target ship much less time to react and activate its defenses.

India and Russia developed the weapon together, and now offer the BrahMos for export. The high price of each missile, about $2.3 million, restricts the number of countries that can afford it. The main reason for the high cost, is the high speed. This would not be as much of a factor when fired against land targets, except for high value targets that were heavily defended (by two or more layers of missiles and radar controlled guns).

The weapon entered service with the Indian navy in 2005. Different versions of the PJ-10 can be fired from aircraft, ships, ground launchers or submarines. The maximum speed of 3,000 kilometers an hour means it takes five minutes or less to reach its target. The air launched version weighs 2.5 tons, the others, three tons or more.

The 29 foot long, 670mm diameter missile is an upgraded version of the Russian SS-NX-26 (Yakhont) missile, which was in development when the Cold War ended in 1991. Lacking money to finish development and begin production, the Russian manufacturer made a deal with India to finish the job. India put up most of the $240 million needed to finally complete two decades of development. The PJ-10 is also being built in Russia. India plans to buy 1,000 of them, and efforts are being made to export up to 2,000.

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