Home » Aviation » India Set to Sell Super Sonic Anti-Ship Cruise Missile to Vietnam

India Set to Sell Super Sonic Anti-Ship Cruise Missile to Vietnam

Undated image of the BrahMos missile system.

Undated image of the BrahMos missile system.

Indian defense officials are set to export one of the world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missiles to Vietnam, according to several press reports.

Based on the Russian P-800 Onyx, the BrahMos is a supersonic anti-ship missile, developed in tandem between New Delhi and Moscow for the past decade, and is arguably one of the most deadly anti-ship missiles in any nation’s inventory — almost entirely for its speed.

India has been keen to export the Mach 3 missile for years, but met resistance from Russia over intellectual property issues that have since been resolved, according to a Wednesday report from Jane’s Defense Weekly.

Additionally, there were concerns from China – a maritime rival with both India and Vietnam – that Indian arms sales would upset the balance of power in the South China Sea.

“In the case of Vietnam, China has expressed its reservations against India’s policies to supply weapons. In the South China Sea, China and Vietnam are locked in a conflict over maritime boundaries,” Praveen Pathak, spokesman for BrahMos Aerospace told the Russian TASS news agency last week.
“We expect that those friendly nations with whom neither India nor Russia have any conflict would be keen on buying these missiles.”


In 2014, India had floated the idea of exporting the missile to Vietnam during a visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin, reported USNI News, but the idea never gained traction.

However if the Vietnam deal goes through, it will be a major win for the Indian arms industry, Eric Wertheim, the author of the U.S. Naval Institute’s Combat Fleets of the World, told USNI News on Wednesday.

“In the past few years India has been making a push as a major arms exporter,” he said.
“That’s one of their primary goals in addition to building their domestic capability.”

For Vietnam, it would also be a major boost to their ability to take on modern surface combatants as Hanoi looks to expand its maritime capabilities against an ever-expanding Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

“Vietnam is really in the midst of looking at their capabilities and their major gaps for their maritime forces. And China as forced them to rethink their own maritime security issues,” Wertheim said.

A BrahMos buy “shows that Vietnam is looking It’s looking beyond its typical partners.”
Hanoi’s largest defense acquisition in recent memory was for six Russian-built Kilo-class diesel-electric attack submarines as part of a 2009 deal with Moscow worth $1.8 to 2 billion.

While the BrahMos is currently surface and aircraft launched weapon, the Indians are testing a sub-launched version that could conceivably be used on Vietnam’s Kilos.

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Categories: Aviation, Budget Industry, News & Analysis, Submarine Forces, Surface Forces
Sam LaGrone

About Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He was formerly the U.S. Maritime Correspondent for the Washington D.C. bureau of Jane’s Defence Weekly and Jane’s Navy International. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.

  • Ed L

    It looks like Vietnam will have a little muscle to defend itself in the near future. Maybe the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia can buy some along with some Russian Air Defense systems.

  • Limpkisar

    It looks like, India is exporting weapons to those countries who are rivals to China. India wants to create regional troubles against peaceful rise of China. It is highly unfortunate that India doesn’t want to see peace and prosperity in the region. Its major focus is on weapons import and export.

    • Pat Patterson

      Peaceful, hardly. The Chicoms are thugs!

    • Emily Han

      Are you really, commenting on the article you read or just typing slogans you have memorized?

      No one talks “peaceful rise” anymore when China is invading, militarizing throughout Asia and everyone of its neighbors is arming to defend Chinese next move.

    • Gratgy

      Switch India and China in your comment and China’s weapons sales to Pakistan will start making sense

  • Donald Carey

    China should not be suprised – expansionist bullies usually get a response.
    China should also re-think its opinion of India’s strength and try to antagonize it less.

  • RobM1981

    Depending upon the configuration, this missile has a range of over 200 miles. Sometimes less, oftentimes more.

    We are getting all excited about a hypervelocity rail gun with a range of 125 miles.

    Do you see where I’m going with this?

    The rail gun is great, don’t get me wrong. Ultimately, rail gun technology will likely be used in an anti-missile configuration, specifically to handle Mach 3 or higher threats – like BrahMos/Onyx. And, sure, it’s much less expensive per round than this expensive missile.

    BUT, c’mon… if a Mach 3 missile is homing in on you, and you are still 75 miles out of range? What difference does it make if your round is cheaper?

    IF this technology works as claimed, the only question is: where is ours? In some configurations the SM6 is >200 Mile range, but in some configurations the BrahMos is more like 600 miles. In all configurations, the Oniks/BrahMos carries more than 2X the warhead, too, since it is a purpose-built SSM.

    I love the rail gun, but I am still at a loss to understand how we are so far behind in surface weapons.

    • @USS_Fallujah

      It’s not like the EMRG, if/when it’s deployed will be the only arrow in the quiver. You’ll still have an ASCM version of the Tomahawk w/ Range out to ~1,300km, then the LRASM w/ range out to ~900km then the EMRG, Harpoon or NSM.

      • RobM1981

        The question remains: are 30 year old designs still effective as SSM’s, or have counter-measures rendered them easy to defeat?

        For all we know the Harpoon and the Tomahawk are very stealthy and impossible to stop. I hope so, but I also know that the technology needed to intercept them has advanced over those 30 years.

        Updating them to a high-supersonic missile would certainly make interception much more challenging. I don’t believe that Russia, China, and India are wrong in their pursuit of this kind of platform. More importantly, our Navy deserves the *best* arrows in their quiver.

        • @USS_Fallujah

          There are lots of way to make interception more challenging, and to put all your money on speed to accomplish this is foolhardy, IMO. You lose range, stealth and increase size (limiting the available attack platform).

    • sferrin

      There is no configuration of Brahmos that has a 600 mile range. Railguns aren’t meant with antiship missions as their primary role. The fact that any Brahmos has a longer range than SM-6 means little. (BTW, if SM-6 can be used in a high altitude, lofting shot against an enemy ship it would probably outrange Brahmos.) In short you’re panicking over the wrong things.

      The answer to the question of why we’re so behind in antiship missiles (it’s not a new question as that has been the case since the 60s) is because we never bothered to develop them and we’ve pissed away our industrial base. LRASM-B was cancelled almost before the ink on the contract was dry because there was nobody left who could make it work. (To add insult to injury it was based on an existing design -ASALM- and it was still “too risky”.)

      • RobM1981

        Sorry, my metric is broken. 600km, not mi. My bad.

        Even so, I believe that BrahMos/Oniks routinely outranges and out-warheads the SM6. Whether it out-performs it is another question, and not one that I need the answer to.

        I’m not panicked, I’m just irritated to see my Navy having to patch things together to compete – particularly when we are still funded better than any other.

        The continuing erosion of our military industrial base, coupled with the ongoing inflation to build anything, is a national issue. If there is anything that might push me to panic, it is that. The F-35 is hardly the first semi-failure that we’ve ever fielded, but at least the F-111, the B-1, etc. had other new-designs backing them up. The F-111 was a dud as a fighter, but the F-14, 15, 16, and 17 (now 18) most definitely were not. Right now it’s F-35 or nothing, precisely for the reasons you give: we have no real competition inside our own borders.

        • sferrin

          Even 600km is incorrect. More like 300km (186 miles). Right from their web page:

          “The missile has flight range of up to 290-km with supersonic speed all
          through the flight, leading to shorter flight time, consequently
          ensuring lower dispersion of targets, quicker engagement time and
          non-interception by any known weapon system in the world.”

          • @USS_Fallujah

            Which BTW means the Brahamos has a shorter range than an SM-6 (not to mention LRASM or Tomahawk) and barely more than an NSM or Harpoon-ER. Speed is no panacea, it costs the attacker significantly in size (and thus available attack platform) and range. Giving your adversary a short engagement window can be extremely valuable against certain targets or in certain scenarios, but speed doesn’t ensure hits.

          • aehntu

            SM-6 range 240 km.

          • @USS_Fallujah

            False, though officially classified the reported SM-6 range is about 250nm, which is about 450km.

          • Sangti

            Recently Russia and India approved the proposal to double the range of BrahMos to 600 km. But yeah currently its at 300 km. The proposal to increase the range of BrahMos was under consideration
            for a long time and now it has been formalized right after India became a member
            of Missile Technology Control Regime this year.

    • Marauder 2048

      Consider the massive difference in magazine depth: a full-on conversion of the AGS magazines to EMRG rounds gives you a 10,000 EMRG round capacity.

  • James Bowen

    We should try to buy this missile and engineer something similar. This looks like it is a lot better than the Harpoon or LRASM.

    • Marauder 2048

      Just those minor complications of Brahmos being too wide and too long for just about any VLS cell in the US Navy and too short legged. But those aren’t issues for a missile intended for coastal defense.

      • James Bowen

        So what? Being too narrow for VLS is a lame excuse for refusing to adopt a superior weapons system. As far as being short legged is concerned, that really isn’t that big of deal. Surface warfare clashes have always been fought within visual range or near visual range, and aircraft from carriers would presumably be the leg that extends the reach of these missiles.

        • sferrin

          “So what? Being too narrow for VLS is a lame excuse for refusing to adopt a superior weapons system.”

          What are you going to do, fire it from the dock? At what?

          • James Bowen

            Develop a new launcher maybe? We have done this before, after all. The first ships of Ticonderoga-class had twin rail launchers.

          • sferrin

            ^— it’s posts like that one that make my head hurt. Ask yourself where those first Ticoderogas are and why. You’re welcome.

          • James Bowen

            My point is that this is an easy fix. As for the first Ticos, decomming them was a big mistake–just one of many that have been made in recent years.

          • sferrin

            My point is that it’s NOT an easy fix which is WHY those Ticos. were retired.

          • James Bowen

            No, those Ticos were retired because we had very poor leadership at all levels that were thinking more like MBA’s than they were military men. The idea that we can’t upgrade our magazines to hold new weapons is about as lame of excuse as it gets, especially when one considers the uncountable engineering feats the Navy has accomplished in the past.

    • sferrin

      No, we should have gone with Fasthawk, RATTLRS, HyFly, LRASM-B, or any one of a plethora of other designs we gave up on at the first whiff of difficulty.

      • James Bowen

        I am not familiar with these designs. How do they compare to the BRAHMOS?

        • sferrin

          There’s this thing called “Google”. Fasthawk was a Mach 4 cruise missile that would have went in the Mk41 VLS. 700lb warhead with a 700 mile range at Mach 4.

  • No-U-FC

    Vietnam does not need BrahMos, it already has Yakhont system. What Vietnam really need is AGM-158C LRASM since arm embargo just lifted by Obama and many people in Pentagon and Senators encouraged to arm Vietnam with advanced weapon to deter chinese aggression and provocation.

  • Reality Check

    These missile adventures by India in exporting technology to outside world will create more unrest in the region and will affect the proliferation concerns. China is a peacful country as they supported Chahbahar port same deeds must be done by India instead of igniting rivalry to new levels.

    • MT

      Cheen have proliferated nukes, solid rocket missiles(Shaheen), cruise missiles to pakistan-

  • MT

    Cheen have proliferated nukes, solid rocket missiles(Shaheen), cruise missiles to pakistan-

    why shall India not pay them back– Vietnam should be assisted by india in developing SRBM.

  • peacehugger

    China has deployed missile corvettes, much to the US’ chagrin.

  • LightningBolt

    Missile for a Missile , makes the whole world – what ?? to stone age !!