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India to deploy BrahMos in jet planes

NEW DELHI, March 15 (UPI) -- India is planning to deploy its supersonic BrahMos cruise missile on next-generation aircraft being co-developed with Russia.

"If we are able to reduce the weight of the missile below the 2 tons we will deploy it on the fifth-generation aircraft and we are looking to do that in the futures," said Sivanthanu Pillai, BrahMos Aerospace chief executive officer.

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The fifth-generation plane is a joint venture program that will lead to the development of 250 to 300 such aircraft.

"The trials of launching BrahMos cruise missile from air will begin in 2012 and there will be no delay in the program due to this," Pillai was quoted saying in a report of The Hindu newspaper.

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On the submarine version, Pillai said there would be an underwater test of the missile by the end of this year "after we get the pontoon."

Experts say the underwater missile will have the same capability as earlier variants. It has the capability to strike at both land and maritime targets.

The Hindustan Times, however, reported that Russia and India were sparring over who would foot the bill to alter aircraft designs to fit the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile.

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Speaking to reporters Pillai denied the spat. Still he did concede that both sides were stuck in talks over the final cost.

"This is under discussion. That is not finalized," he said at a media event organized by the Press Club of India over the weekend. "There is no dispute with them. Any discussion takes time. We are also looking at our own design. We will not delay the project."

Determined to increase its defenses and become a regional superpower, India plans to spend up to $30 billion on its military by 2012. In recent months, it inducted a long-range, nuclear-tipped missile into its armed forces, unveiling a defense spending budget spiked by 24 percent since last year.

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The moves have Pakistan fretting, with leading officials billing India's drive a "massive militarization."

Russia has been the biggest military supplier to India since the Cold War. While India's armed forces rely heavily on Russian supplies, New Delhi has been trying to diversify its military imports in recent years.

India boosted its defense ties with Russia this year. It is expected that the military industry in Moscow will also supply New Delhi with 22 attack helicopters and 15 heavy-lift helicopters.

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