Asia Defense

India’s Navy Receives Sea-Launched BrahMos Cruise Missiles for Frigates

BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles will replace Klub-N anti-ship missiles as the Talwar-class’ primary weapon system.

Franz-Stefan Gady
India’s Navy Receives Sea-Launched BrahMos Cruise Missiles for Frigates
Credit: Indian Navy

The Indian Navy has begun receiving sea-launched BrahMos anti-ship cruise missiles for the service’s Talwar (Project 1135.6)-class frigates, the CEO of BrahMos Aerospace, Alexander Maksichev, told Jane’s earlier this month.

The first three Talwar-class missile frigates will be equipped with a new eight-cell vertical launch system (VLS) and a shipborne control unit for launching the BrahMos missiles, which will repace the Russian-made 3M-54E Klub-B anti-ship missile as the surface combatant’s primary weapon system.

“The [Indian Navy] has started repair and modernization of the Talwar Project 1135.6 type ships that were built at the Baltic Shipyard,” Maksichev was quoted as saying on July 25. “These platforms will have their Klub-N strike missiles replaced by the BrahMos SLCM [sea-launched cruise missile].”

It is unclear when the retrofitting will be completed. Russia built six Talwar-class frigates for the Indian Navy between 2003 and 2013. All six warships are homeported in Mumbai.

The two-stage BrahMos missile — named after the Brahmaputra River in India and the Moskva River in Russia – is a derivative of the Russian-made P-800 Oniks over-the-horizon supersonic anti-ship cruise missile. The missile has an estimated range of between 300 to 400 kilometers.

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The SLCM variant reportedly can fly 3-4 meters above the sea to avoid detection and is capable of traveling at speeds of up to Mach 3.0, making it one of the world’s fastest cruise missiles.

BrahMos Aerospace is a joint venture between India’s Defense Research Development Organization and Russian rocket design bureau NPO Mashinostroyeniya.

Maksichev did not elaborate on the VLS to be installed aboard the Talwar-class. In July 2018, Indian defense firm Larsen & Toubro (L&T)  unveiled a quadruple canisterized inclined launcher for firing the BrahMos from surface combatants. It could also be a modified Russian eight-cell 3S-14E under-deck launcher.

Four upgraded Talwar-class warships — Admiral Grigorovich-class (Project 1135.6P/M) guided-missile frigates — will also be equipped with the BrahMos SLCM. Work on the first two upgraded Talwar-class ships has reportedly already begun at the Yantar shipyard, part of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), in Kaliningrad. As I reported previously:

Under an intergovernmental agreement concluded between India and Russia in October 2016, two frigates are to be built at the Yantar shipyard, while two frigates will be assembled at India’s state-owned Goa shipyard with technical support from USC. The first warship is slated for delivery to the Navy at the end of 2022. (…) All four 3,620-ton surface combatants are expected to be delivered to the Indian Navy by 2026.

Full-scale work on the first two upgraded Talwar-class ships is slated to kick off following the transfer of the first portion of payments by the Indian government to USC. The payment is expected to be made by the end of this month.