BrahMos missile to equip Talwar-class frigates - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Saturday 1 December 2018

BrahMos missile to equip Talwar-class frigates

These anti-ship missiles are now the navy’s basic weapon across a range of warships

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 2nd Dec 18

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has stated that the four Krivak-III class frigates the navy is buying from Russia will be armed with the BrahMos anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM), reinforcing their reputation as the word’s most-heavily armed 4,000-tonne warships.

On Saturday, the MoD’s apex procurement body, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), approved the procurement of BrahMos missile systems for the first two Krivak-III frigates (also designated Project 1135.6) which are almost fully built in Yantar Shipyard, Russia. The third and fourth frigates will be built in Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) under a transfer of technology agreement.

“The DAC granted approval for procurement of indigenous BrahMos Missile for two Indian Navy ships to be built in Russia. The indigenously designed BrahMos Missile is a tested and proven supersonic cruise missile and will form the primary weapon on-board these ships,” said a MoD release on Saturday.

The MoD is exaggerating in describing the BrahMos missile as “indigenously designed”. More than half the missile’s systems are Russian. BrahMos, a joint venture between Russia and India, assembles the missile in Hyderabad.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had approved the procurement of four frigates in October 2018, says the MoD. The price of the two ready built frigates has been agreed. The arrangements for building the next two in GSL are currently being negotiated.

Building in Goa will increase the cost, because of technology transfer, the cost of shipping raw materials and systems from Russia, establishing building infrastructure in GSL and indigenising parts of the warship.

The BrahMos systems for two ships approved today, including the cost of the “vertical launch system” and missiles on board, are estimated to cost Rs 2,500 crore.

Russian sources close to the negotiations place the contract value for two ready-built Project 1135.6 frigates atunder $1 billion (Rs 7,000 crore) – or Rs 3,500 crore each. That means each vessel’s BrahMos arsenal will amount to about a quarter of the cost of the warship, making it the world’s most expensive anti-ship missile.

Separately, India is also negotiating a supplementary contract with Ukraine for the Zorya gas turbines that will power the four frigates. After Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014, Ukraine cut off defence supplies to Russia. However, given its strong defence relations with Kiev, New Delhi has persuaded Ukraine to sell India the Zorya turbines, which Yantar Shipyard will fit onto India’s frigates.

India already operates six Krivak-class frigates, which it calls the Talwar-class after the lead vessel. The first three frigates, INS Talwar, Trishul and Tabar, which were commissioned between June 2003 and April 2004, were armed with the Russian Klub ASCM. However, the next three, INS Teg, Tarkash and Trikand, which were commissioned between April 2012 and June 2013, carried the BrahMos.

With the BrahMos now finalised for the next four “follow on” frigates, it has emerged as the navy’s standard ASCM. BrahMos also equips the navy’s three Kolkata-class and four Visakhapatnam-class destroyers; and will also equip the seven Project 17A frigates that will shortly enter production.

The navy has pushed hard for the four Talwar-class frigates, given that it currently has just 132 warships against the projected requirement of 198 vessels. There are just 15 frigates in service against the 24 the navy calculates it needs.

Frigates are the navy’s workhorses -- multi-role 3,500-6,000 tonne warships that can operate alone, and are capable of engaging targets in all four dimensions: Underwater, on the surface, inland and in the air.


  1. Good analysis Ajai, I quite agree that Brahmos is very expensive mainly of high import cost and content. Pity is that we are good in assembling only. They are making these for years now and still import parts! Same story with other DPSU's. Another blunder is to give GSL contract to make FFG. Why waste time and money in GSL when MDL & GRSE already have capabilities? Pity MOD will continue to be worst performing ministry no matter who comes....
    Can you update on LPD contract and VC 11184?

  2. Good thing to sign for Russian frigates. Good to equip with Brahmos.

    Very poor decision to locally build two. If really necessary to build competence , could have given to a pvt yard like L&T.
    GSL also needs to build mine sweepers , already delayed.

  3. Ajai sir, how many Brahmos missiles does a Krivak carry?

  4. @InterWeave

    Eight BrahMos missiles in vertical launch canisters


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