Indian Company BrahMos Aerospace Assisted Russia In Upgrading P-800 Oniks Supersonic Missile To Strike Ukraine

Russia is upgrading one of its supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles to allow President Vladimir Putin’s forces to strike Ukraine with greater accuracy, Russian state-run media reported.

Moscow’s P-800 Oniks, which in its export form is known as the Yakhont, will soon receive new active homing devices, a source in the Russian defense industry told news agency Tass. These devices will allow the military to strike Ukrainian ground targets with greater precision.

The P-800 Oniks anti-ship cruise missile is a supersonic cruise missile with variants that can be deployed from land or air. Its development began in 1983, and it became operational in 2002. The P-800 has a localized derivative in India with Israeli components called the Brahmos missile.

The BrahMos was developed from Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM) P-800 Oniks family of cruise missiles, through a joint venture between NPOM and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), named BrahMos Aerospace.

BrahMos Aerospace received technology assistance from the Israel Military Industries, Israeli Aerospace Industries and French Thales. Technology and components have been shared with Russian NPO Mashinostroyenia which upgraded the Soviet-era P-800 Oniks missile.

BrahMos Aerospace was established on 5 December 1995 with an authorized share capital of $250 million. India holds 50.5% share of the joint venture, and its initial financial contribution was $126.25 million, while Russia holds 49.5% share with an initial contribution of $123.75 million.

The missile, which can be fired by Bastion coastal-defense missile systems, surface ships and submarines, has a range of about 186 miles and travels at speeds of up to roughly 1,900 mph, making it supersonic. It has been used regularly by Russia’s military in the ongoing war against Ukraine.

“Initially designed as anti-ship missiles, Oniks received the capacity of striking the adversary’s ground-based facilities with greater precision due to its new active homing device,” the source said.

Russia’s military is also working on making the anti-ship cruise missiles “invulnerable to Ukrainian electronic warfare equipment,” another source told Tass.

The upgrade could pose challenges for Ukraine’s forces as Kyiv is reported to be facing shortages of ammunition. In February, two U.S. officials told ABC News on condition of anonymity that the shortages could become “catastrophic” by late March.

“The juncture starts now and it just keeps getting worse progressively through the spring and into summer. So, this time period that we are entering is a critical time period,” a senior U.S. defense official told the network.

A $60 billion U.S. aid package requested by President Joe Biden is stalled in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

Taking advantage of the situation, Russia has been making gradual gains in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region. After seizing town of Avdiivka in February, Russia said its forces captured a number of villages in the region, including Nevelske, Orlivka, Krasnoye and the Ivanivske settlement.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) a U.S.-based think tank, said in an analysis on March 14 that Ukrainian shortages of ammunition and other war materiel “may be making the current Ukrainian front line more fragile than the relatively slow Russian advances in various sectors would indicate.”

“Ukrainian prioritization of the sectors most threatened by intensive Russian offensive operations could create vulnerabilities elsewhere that Russian forces may be able to exploit to make sudden and surprising advances if Ukrainian supplies continue to dwindle,” the think tank said.

“Russia’s retention of the theater-wide initiative increases the risks of such developments by letting the Russian military command choose to increase or decrease operations anywhere along the line almost at will.”

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