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    New Russian frigate may be fitted with BrahMos cruise missiles

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    A Russian frigate being built at a shipyard in St. Petersburg may be equipped with sea-based Russian-Indian BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, a Russian defense industry official said on Friday.

    MOSCOW, June 20 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian frigate being built at a shipyard in St. Petersburg may be equipped with sea-based Russian-Indian BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, a Russian defense industry official said on Friday.

    "The only [Russian combat] ship that could feature these [the BrahMos] missiles is the Project 22350 frigate Admiral Sergei Gorshkov being built at the Severnaya Verf shipyard in St. Petersburg," the source said.

    In 1998, Russia and India established the BrahMos Aerospace joint venture to design, develop, produce and market a supersonic cruise missile.

    The BrahMos missile, named after India's Brahmaputra River and Russia's Moskva River, has a range of 180 miles (290 km) and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 660 pounds. It can hit ground and sea targets while flying at an altitude as low as 10 meters (30 feet) and at a speed of Mach 2.8, which is about three times faster than the U.S.-made subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile.

    Its sea-based and land-based versions have been successfully tested and put into service with the Indian Army and Navy.

    The three additional Project 11356 Krivak IV-class guided missile frigates built in Russia for the Indian Navy will feature the BrahMos supersonic anti-ship cruise missile system.

    Experts estimate that India might purchase up to 1,000 BrahMos missiles for its Armed Forces in the next decade, and export 2,000 to third countries during the same period.

    Russia apparently had no plans to for the missile to enter service with its Armed Forces, but under pressure from the Indian side may consider equipping at least one surface ship with BrahMos missiles.

    "Considering that we have only one platform [suitable for BrahMos missiles] we may deploy six of them on the ship [the Admiral Gorshkov frigate]," the Russian official said.

    The Admiral Sergei Gorshkov is scheduled for launch in 2009. According to some military sources Russia's Navy intends to procure up to 20 such vessels.

    The frigate has a displacement of about 4,500 tons, a length of over 130 meters (430 feet), a maximum width of 16 meters (51 feet), and a range of over 4,000 miles.

    The defense ministry official also said on Friday that neither Russia's newest Steregushchy class corvettes nor submarines currently in service with the Russian Navy could carry BrahMos missiles due to their hull and capacity specifications.

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