India’s offensive capacity has received a big boost as Russia has agreed to help New Delhi develop a new generation of ‘Brahmos’ missiles with 600km-plus striking range. The Indian Defence Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that the new generation missiles could easily hit protected targets with pinpoint accuracy.

During his recent two-day visit to India, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow made a final decision in this regard after the South Asian country joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June. Indian defence experts have welcomed President Putin’s announcement, saying that it is the first major benefit of joining MTCR.

MTCR guidelines prohibit its members from transfer, sale or joint production of missiles beyond 300km range with countries outside the club. As a result, India failed to extend Brahmos’ striking range beyond 300km in the past. Now, it becomes easier for New Delhi to produce long-range ballistic missiles. Experts believe that new generation Brahmos will be a game changer in any conflict with enemies because of the missile’s ability to take down specific targets, even well-protected ones.

A senior Defence Ministry official, who wished to remain anonymous, has explained that ballistic missiles are powered for the initial half of their flight path and they use gravity to complete their trajectory. However, cruise missiles are powered throughout. So, according to the official, new generation Brahmos can take down terror camps and hideouts even in mountainous areas. The cruise missile will be similar to a pilot-less fighter jet that can be manoeuvred in flight. The missile will be programmed in such a way so that it can attack targets from any angle and evade enemy missile defence systems. The official told the press that a minimal effort is needed as Brahmos, by design, is already capable of doubling range.

As per an Indo-Russian agreement signed during the bilateral summit at Goa, Moscow and New Delhi will also work together on smaller version of missiles for submarines. Speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of recently-held BRICS Summit in Goa, President Putin told the Indian media: “We have also agreed to improve the Brahmos missile, which will be land, air and sea launched. We will also work to increase its range. And we will work together on a fifth-generation aircraft.” The visiting president stressed that producing longer-range Brahmos would not be tough because no fundamental reworking is involved in increasing the range.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]