In 1998, Russia and India established a joint venture, BrahMos Aerospace, to design, develop, produce and market a supersonic cruise missile. Sea-based and land-based versions of the missile have been successfully tested and put into service with the Indian Army and Navy.
The source said India's Defense Research and Development Organization, which represents the Indian side in the BrahMos venture, and the government of the Kerala state had signed a memorandum of understanding on the acquisition of a plant currently owned by state-run company Kerala Hightech Industries Limited.
He said the plant has all the facilities and over 250 qualified personnel to launch production of the [BrahMos] cruise missiles.
The contract on transfer of the plant's ownership to BrahMos will be signed January 1, 2008, the source said.
The Brahmos missile, named after India's Brahmaputra River and Russia's Moskva River, has a range of 180 miles and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 660 pounds. It can hit ground targets 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.
Work is currently underway to create aircraft- and submarine-based BrahMos missiles.
The airborne version could be installed on the Sukhoi-30MKI air superiority fighters of the Indian Air Force.
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.
In 2000, Russia and India signed a 10-year program on military-technical cooperation, which currently lists about 130 R&D and production projects, including the joint development of a fifth-generation multirole fighter.