Hooghly dry run sets NE stage for BrahMos
Unit That Will Form Third BrahMos Regiment Uses River For Brahmaputra Simulation
Jayanta Gupta TNN
Kolkata: An Army unit that will be deployed to the Northeast before long as the third BrahMos regiment has set up base on the outskirts of Kolkata and is using the Hooghly channel for simulated trials.
The supersonic missiles, two regiments of which have already been delivered to the Army, have a range of 290km and can move at speeds of Mach 2.8. The third regiment is to be deployed in the Northeast along the Line of Actual Control.
“The supersonic missiles will add punch to India’s military set-up in the Northeast. It will be an effective deterrent. There are high mountain ranges along the LAC and if India was to ever consider a strike into China, the best route for the missiles would be along the Brahmaputra channel. The unit that will ultimately form the third BrahMos regiment has been placed strategically on the banks of the Hooghly near Kolkata,” a source revealed.
“By the time they are relocated to the Northeast, the unit will have a fair idea of how to handle the missiles so they reach enemy territory undetected along the Brahmaputra that flows into Arunachal Pradesh from China,” the source added.
Due to the lack of mountain radars, not much is known of the movement on the Chinese side. According to officials, the mountain ranges along the LAC provide cover to the Indians as well. “Just as we are blind to the goings-on and troop movement on the other side, the Chinese are in no better position,” another source said.
“According to our estimates, any air or missile attack that the Chinese consider will be along the Brahmaputra channel as such movement is very difficult to detect. We are now thinking on the same lines. If India were to launch a retaliatory attack on the Chinese, it would have to be along the Brahmaputra,” the source added.
Though the channels of the Hooghly and the Brahmaputra don’t exactly match, the Army is trying to give its officers and men a feel of how to operate the supersonic cruise missiles along a river. Just like the Brahmaputra, the Hooghly too has several bends that will have to be negotiated by the missile on its way to its target.
BrahMos missiles have the capability of flying at a height of barely 10 metres and strike surface targets. The Army wants the missiles to skip the surface of the river to avoid detection by enemy radar.
Incidentally, the distance from Kolkata to the estuary point (in the Bay of Bengal) along the Hooghly is 148km. The officers can set mock targets on either bank and carry out simulated strikes. This will make their job easier if the need arises to use the missiles for real. The Army unit also makes use of small- and medium-sized vessels to move along the Hooghly for closer inspection and setting of targets.
“The Army has gone in for the Block-II variant of the BrahMos, which has target discrimination capabilities. The ground systems and the missiles of this variant are more advanced and can carry out ‘fly and forget’ attacks on selected targets,” the source said.
Each BrahMos regiment comprises 65 missiles, 5 mobile autonomous launchers on Tatra vehicles and 2 mobile command posts. The Navy has already inducted the BrahMos and has fitted them on most frontline battleships. Efforts are now on to develop BrahMos variants that can be launched from submarines and aircraft.