New Delhi: In possibly the second sale of BRAHMOS supersonic cruise missiles to another country, Thailand is in talks with India for their purchase, official sources said. A few other countries have also expressed interest in BRAHMOS but nothing has fructified yet.
“Negotiations are on. It may not happen this year, but most likely next year,” diplomatic sources said. While Thailand expressed interest in the missiles some time back, discussions picked pace after the visit of Royal Thai Navy Chief Admiral Ruddit to India in December last year.
Thailand, characterised by its extensive cooperation with China, has turned its attention to strengthening its ties with other nations, notably India. Under the allure of India’s fastest cruise missile – BRAHMOS – which is currently in service for all three branches of the Indian military, this collaboration presents a new phase in Thailand’s geopolitical alignments.
BrahMos Aerospace, after achieving an important milestone with their advanced supersonic cruise missile being stationed in the vicinity of China through the Philippines, has embarked on dialogues with numerous prospective customers, including Thailand, where ongoing discussions have endured for a considerable period.
Detailed information about the missile system was accorded to the Thai Defence Minister, Sutin Klungsang on November 6. At the commencement day of Defence Security 2023 at IMPACT Exhibition Centre, Bangkok, the Director of Market Promotion and Export, Praveen Pathak, briefed a high-ranking delegation led by Minister Klungsang about the latest advancements within the BrahMos weapon complex and the BrahMos Pavilion.
The high commendations bestowed on the weapon complex’s capabilities and expression of interest in the BRAHMOS missile system by Minister Klungsang were acknowledged by BrahMos’s handle on X.
Although Thailand showcased its interest in the missile system earlier, the pace of negotiations ramped up in the wake of the visit of Royal Thai Navy Chief Admiral Ruddit to India in December 2018. The discussions continue to progress at present.
Considered valuable by China partly due to its geo-location near Bangkok that provides direct access to the Gulf of Thailand eventually leading to the South China Sea, Thailand is rapidly emerging as a hotbed of modernisation in the Southeast Asian landscape.
The newly formed civilian coalition administration within Thailand might intensify its engagement with the Western democracies while preserving the prevalent ties with China, established by the preceding military-led government. And although the contemporary civilian government in Thailand might not sever all ties with China, the desire to diversify its relationships with other countries is evident. Therefore, India will need to strategise effectively to conclude the deal with Thailand successfully.
The BRAHMOS missile is designed to engage surface targets, complete with the ability to fly at a minimum altitude of five meters and soaring up to 15,000 meters. The missile itself is considerably sized, with a diameter of 70cm and a wingspan of 1.7m.