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US Approves Sale of UAV Technology to India

The United States has cleared the sale of the state-of-the-art Guardian 22 unmanned Guardian drones to India. The deal to sell UAV drones to India is estimated to be worth $2 to $3 billion. Though the deal has been approved by the State Department, an official announcement regarding the deal is yet to be announced.

Significance

The transfer of the state-of-the-art UAV technology to India will be the first significant progress after India’s entry into the exclusive Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and after the US has designated India as a major defence partner. India became the 35th full member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June 2016.

The transfer of Guardian UAV technology is aimed at furthering mutual security interests to protect the Indian Ocean.

The deal would also pave the way for the transfer of other key technology sales from the US to India. The Guardian unmanned aircraft has been classified as Category 1 aircraft with cutting edge technologies.

Background

Last year, the Indian Navy had requested for this intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform. The US has designated India as a “major defence partner” under the Obama Administration. The US considers India as a key player to counter the Chinese threat. However, the Guardian UAV proposal was kept in abeyance under Obama administration.

UAVs operate without a human pilot. UAVs are commonly used in both the military and police forces in situations where the risk of sending a human piloted aircraft is unacceptable, or the situation makes using a manned aircraft impractical.

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BrahMos missile successfully test-fired

The land-attack version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile with an extended range increased from 290 km to 450 km was successfully test fired.

The missile was test fired from a Mobile Autonomous Launcher (MAL) from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, Odisha. It met its mission parameters fully by achieving 100% results. 

About BrahMos missile

  • BrahMos supersonic cruise missile has been designed and developed by BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture of India and Russia.
  • It name has been derived from the names of two rivers, India’s Brahmaputra River and Russia’s Moskva River.
  • Features: It has top supersonic speed of Mach 2.  It is two-stage missile, the first one being solid and the second one ramjet liquid propellant.It is capable of carrying a warhead of 300 kilogram, both conventional and nuclear.
  • Range: Its earlier strike range was 290 km. But after India’s induction into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June 2016, missile’s range has been increased beyond 300km in the same configuration.
  • Another version of the missile with a strike range of 800 km is under development.
  • Deployment: It has already been inducted into the Indian Army and Navy, while the Air Force version is in the final stage of trials. Navy’s first version was inducted in 2005 on INS Rajput.
  • The Indian Army is already equipped with three regiments of Block III version of Brahmos missiles. Now, it is fully operational with two regiments of the Army.

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India, Russia agree to double the range of BrahMos Missile

India and Russia have agreed to double the range of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from 290 km to over 600 km.

The decision in this regard was taken during the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Goa on the sidelines of the BRICS summit.

Why this decision was taken?

Earlier, India was denied access to the missile technology with range over 300 km as it was not member state of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). But India’s recent accession to MTCR, allowed Russia to provide the critical systems and technology to extend the range of the missile beyond 300km.

Benefits of extending range: It will enhance the stand-off capability and the operational radius in striking targets of the missile. It will have major force multiplier due its speed and accuracy.

Background

India and Russia had teamed up to develop the BrahMos missile in 1998. It is based on the Russian Yakhont anti-ship missile. Its range was limited to 290 km as Russia was a member of MTCR but India was not. Due to restrictions under MTCR, Russia was not able provide the critical systems of the missile to increase its range.

What are features of BrahMos Missile?

  • BrahMos is one of its kind supersonic cruise missile. Named from the names of two rivers, India’s Brahmaputra River and Russia’s Moskva River.
  • It operates on fire and forget principal and is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against sea and land targets.
  • It is capable of carrying a warhead of 300 kilogram and has top supersonic speed of Mach 3 (that is, three times the speed of sound).
  • It is two-stage missile, the first one being solid and the second one ramjet liquid propellant.

The BrahMos Missile already been deployed by Indian Army and Indian Navy in anti-ship and precision strike roles respectively. The air version is at present undergoing testing.

What is Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)?

MTCR was established by G-7 countries in 1987. It is only an informal political understanding and not an official treaty with legally binding obligations. The aim of the MTCR is to restrict the proliferation of missiles, unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), complete rocket systems and related technology for those systems capable of carrying a 500 kilogram payload for at least 300 kms, as well as systems intended for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

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