The government has approved the purchase of 200 of the supersonic weapons, which were co-developed with Russia Visitors walk past a model of India’s Brahmos supersonic cruise missile displayed at the Defence Expo 2022 in Gandhinagar on October 18, 2022. © Sam PANTHAKY / AFP

New Delhi’s Cabinet Committee on Security cleared the acquisition of 200 BrahMos extended-range supersonic cruise missiles on Wednesday. The new weapons, developed jointly by India and Russia, are to be purchased for around 190 billion rupees ($2.3 billion). They will be mounted on warships, Indian media reports said on Thursday. The contract with BrahMos Aerospace, an Indo-Russian joint venture, is expected to be signed next month.

Named after the Brahmaputra River in India and the Moskva in Russia, BrahMos missiles originally had a range of 290 kilometers (180 miles) which has been extended to between 450 and 500 kilometers through upgrades.

The joint venture produces missiles with land, air, sea, and submarine capabilities. The sale of BrahMos missiles outside India is expected to spearhead efforts to export $5 billion in military hardware by 2025, set by the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In 2022, BrahMos signed a $375 million deal with the Philippines to deliver the high-capability missiles, and deliveries are expected to start in March.

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At the World Defense Show held earlier this month in Saudi Arabia, Praveen Pathak, BrahMos’ director of exports, revealed that the company’s order portfolio has already reached $7 billion, encompassing both domestic and international orders. He also claimed that a “great deal of interest” had been shown by Saudi Arabia in procuring the missiles. The chief of India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) also asserted that the missiles are “getting a lot of interest” from potential buyers. Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia are believed to have expressed an interest in acquiring the cruise missiles.

BrahMos missiles are used extensively by the South Asian nation’s Navy. The development comes at a time when India has ramped up sea patrols amid attacks on merchant ships which Yemeni Houthi rebels launch as they pass through the crucial Gulf of Aden and Red Sea corridors, as well as increased Somali pirate activity.

India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh resolved to take “strict action” against attacks, highlighting the country’s bid to act as one of the “net security providers” in the region. The statement came after the Japanese vessel MV Chem Pluto was attacked 400 kilometers west of India’s coast in December.

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