A “nervous” India’s decision to deploy BrahMos cruise missiles along the frontier in Arunachal Pradesh poses a threat to China and will have a negative impact on the boundary dispute, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has said.
The deployment of a special version of the missile with updated capabilities for stealth and mountain warfare could threaten Yunnan and Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) provinces, located across the border from Arunachal Pradesh which is claimed by China, a commentary in the PLA Daily said.
The move is beyond India’s “normal need for self-defence”, complained military naval engineer Cheng Yuyi, who wrote the piece in the mouthpiece of the world’s largest armed forces. The commentary was carried with the headline: “Playing tricks, they are bound to suffer the consequences.”
“The deployment of the BrahMos missile...is bound to increase the competitiveness and rivalry in the Sino-Indian relationship and negatively impact the region,” the piece said.
Cheng compared the BrahMos to “an agile cobra, poised for action in no time”, and said it can improve the “suddenness and effectiveness of attack by shortening the time gap between finding and hitting the target”.
The commentary came weeks after the cabinet committee on security, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cleared the raising of a new regiment to be equipped with the advanced version of the BrahMos at a cost of more than Rs 4,300 crore.
In the piece originally published in Chinese, Cheng wrote: “It’s not hard to see that behind India’s move this time is the ideology to counterbalance and confront. In recent years, the String of Pearls Strategy and the China Threat Theory has been making a great clamour inside India, reflecting the psychological state of extreme nervousness.”
The commentary noted other steps taken by India to beef up its capabilities along the border with China. It said the “Indian Army has been planning deliberately to form an advantageous military power on the border area by deploying advanced weapons such as SU-30MKI fighters, missiles and unmanned spy drones”.
However, the piece contended that the BrahMos missile would not be able to penetrate deep into China’s territory because of its 290-km range.
“The comparatively short range (of the missile) would not pose a threat for China’s deeper regions, and if the missile was carried on the fighter aircraft to extend the coverage range, its combat effectiveness would be largely cut down,” the commentary said.
It listed what it described as other drawbacks of the missile: “The BrahMos can only attack effectively tactical targets within close range, but is unable to reach targets located far. Secondly, because it is too big, the missile is not suitable to be carried.”
The BrahMos is 8.4 metres long and weighs around 3,000 kg. “Not to mention that medium and small fighters won’t be able to carry the missile, even the Su-30MKI type of fighter will only be able to carry one,” it said.
The Indian Army has so far raised three regiments equipped with two earlier versions of the BrahMos, which was jointly developed by India and Russia and is named after the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers. The missile has also been fitted on Indian warships. The new regiment for the northeast will have some 100 missiles, five mobile autonomous launchers on heavy-duty trucks and a mobile command post.