How Russia Shortchanges India on BrahMosNot a while ago, former HAL chairman CG Krishnadas Nair, lamented that the BrahMos programme was a bit of a farce because the Russians had refused to part with engine technology.
“We must have access to total technology. This denial is a serious matter. No one should hold the other to ransom,” he is quoted to have said in numerous reports.
BrahMos Aerospace’s highly respectable CEO Dr A Sivathanu Pillai provided this brief rejoinder: “This is a joint venture. So, there’s no question of transfer of technology. Russia manufactures the engines, we manufacture the guidance system and integrate the two. Transfer of technology occurs if the technology is purchased.”
I hate to say that Dr Pillai’s rejoinder is a bit of a half-truth. He makes it sound as though India doesn’t want Russia’s engine technology and that it’s perfectly happy functioning the way it does currently. The fact is: Russia will never part with advanced (sc)ramjet technology. Why would it? After the US failed to successfully develop ramjet technology convincingly yet — and therefore moved onto scramjet — Russia has emerged a proprieter of the technology — why in hell would it share that tech with India? Nevermind that. The Indian government has made official requests as many as four times in the last two years to the Russians for engine and seeker technology in BrahMos, and been turned down straight. In the words of a BrahMos insider, “It will take LRDE light years to develop an indigenous seeker.“
He continues: “It’s a leash, you understand. If Russia were to give us these technologies, we would not need them anymore. As long as we do not control the critical technologies, i.e. engine and seeker, Russia will call all the shots in BrahMos, including cost which is critical to export competence. Our contribution to the system is the inertial navigation system (INS) and fire control system, both of which are top quality. But both these things Russia can also make. The entire programme was started because it did not have seeding capital to get it off the ground.“
The shortchanging routine stretches ominously to exports, which was to have been a major, major part of the whole programme.
(Tomorrow Part III: The Export Nightmare for BrahMos)