then chief to me in 2008, at a time when he was grappling with MoD to clear exports of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. Nearly a decade later, and under a new government that doesn’t see Chinese “sensitivities” as a reason not to expand India’s defence exports, the decks were cleared this week for India to export Indian-built BrahMos missiles to a clutch of “friendly countries”. Livefist can confirm that list, as we first reported in 2008, includes Vietnam, UAE, Chile and South Africa.f we are not smart to export now, we will lose the market. The world will not wait for India.” The words of BrahMos Corp’s
Vietnam has pushed for the BrahMos for years now and is likely to be the first export customer if things work to India’s plan. An actual export contract may, however, be a while away, and will depend, as Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said today, on what Vietnam asks for. Vietnam has additionally been interested in Indian-built warships, specifically offshore patrol vessels and missile frigates. Chinese “reservations” are clearly less a part of the strategic calculus than they were a decade ago.
To be clear, if and when India finally exports the BrahMos to one of these nations, it will not only be India’s first export of the BrahMos, but India’s first export of any missile system, a major leap forward for a nation that has traditionally recognised the political sensitivities involved in becoming an exporter of weapons. While the previous government, led by India’s liberal Congress Party made it all but official that export of missiles would not take place, the current government under Prime Minister Modi had made it clear that it would move beyond legacy strategic anxieties and work close with countries in the region. Vietnam has been a significant touchstone towards that end. Arming Vietnam with BrahMos missiles sends out three unignorable messages: One, that India no longer considers Chinese reservations as a stumbling block. Two, that India needs to take braver decisions when it comes to its regional friends. And three, that defence exports is no longer a no-go area that’s restricted to spares, small-arms and sensors.
Other countries involved in discussions towards potential contracts include Philippines, South Korea, Algeria, Greece, Malaysia, Thailand, Egypt, Singapore, Venezuela and Bulgaria.
BrahMos Corp. is busy on several fronts right now. Apart from proving new flight profiles on the existing BrahMos in service with the Indian military, it is also getting set to test-fire the air-launched BrahMos-A from a Su-30MKI later this year. The BrahMos 2 hypersonic missile is the other big development effort that’s currently on between India and Russia under the aegis of BrahMos Corp.