MOSCOW: India has been caught in a row between Russian weapons companies over the Indo-Russian BrahMos missile that may affect defence cooperation.
Dr. A. Sivathanu Pillai, CEO&MD, BrahMos Aerospace Ltd., expressed bewilderment at a sharp attack the Russian Government news agency Itar-Tass mounted last week on India's efforts to promote BrahMos in international markets.
Taking objection to the way BrahMos was fielded against not only third country missiles but also Russian-built systems "Moskit," "Club" and X-55 at a recent defence show in Jakarta, Indonesia, Itar-Tass accused the JV "BrahMos Aerospace" of "discrediting" Russian missiles and "squeezing" them from the market.
"They shoot themselves in the leg by making such charges, because BrahMos is a joint product of India and Russia," Dr. Pillai told The Hindu . Quoting unnamed defence industry sources, Itar-Tass questioned the expediency of setting up joint ventures with other countries to develop new weapon systems.
Until now Russian officials praised the BrahMos project as a ground-breaking example of a shift from the buyer-seller relations between India and Russia to joint development of futuristic defence technologies.
The attack on BrahMos gains a bigger dimension in the light of near-total monopolisation of Russian defence exports by the Russian state company Rosoboronexport. Under a decree signed by President Vladimir Putin all Russian arms exports, with the exception of spare parts, will go through Rosoboronexport as of March 1, 2007. This means that the BrahMos missile will be the only weapon system whose sales are not be controlled by Rosoboronexport. Analysts said the attack on BrahMos may have been orchestrated by Rosoboronexport, which will not receive any proceeds from the sales of BrahMos missiles. "We cannot rule out that Rosoboronexport may bring pressure to bear on NPO Mashinostroyenie now that the latter will depend on the state exporter for the marketing of its other products," a Russian defence expert told The Hindu .
Dr. Pillai warned that the attack on BrahMos worked against the spirit of trust between India and Russia. "The aim of the BrahMos JV is to reinforce time-tested trust and friendship between India and Russia," the BrahMos chief said. "The Itar-Tass story goes against the objective of the JV."