Bengaluru: The stage is set for the final test-firing of the BrahMos supersonic missile from India’s front-line fighter aircraft, Su-30MKI, the CEO and managing director of the missile manufacturer has told ThePrint.
If successful, the test will clear the way for the induction of the missile into the Indian Air Force (IAF), giving India’s air combat prowess a powerful boost.
“We will do the final test-firing of the BrahMos from Sukhoi soon,” Sudhir Mishra, the CEO and MD of BrahMos Aerospace, told ThePrint on the sidelines of Aero India in Bengaluru.
“The objective is to drop the missile from any point in the air envelope of the Su-30 and the missile will take its trajectory and hit the target,” Mishra added.
BrahMos Aerospace is a joint venture between the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s joint stock company ‘military and industrial corporation’ Mashinostroyenia, which is tasked with the designing, development, production and marketing of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.
The name of the missile is an amalgam of the Brahmaputra and the Russian river Moskva. Weighing 2.5 tonnes, the BrahMos missile is the heaviest weapon to be deployed on India’s Su-30 fighter aircraft.
The 2.5-tonne missile flies at almost three times the speed of sound (Mach 2.8) and has a range of about 300 km.
The range of the missile can be extended up to 400 km as certain technical restrictions were lifted after India became a full member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in 2017.
Its land and warship versions have already been inducted into the armed forces. IAF sources told ThePrint that the final firing would take place in less than four months.
‘A great achievement’
The Sukhoi test, Mishra said, would be the final one for the missile, which will be a “great achievement” since they would then start delivering the missile to the IAF.
“Everything is working in a perfect timeline,” said Mishra. “The IAF has a contract with HAL [Hindustan Aeronautics Limited] to modify the fighters for BrahMos. The IAF will start delivering them this year and we will be delivering the missile, which the IAF can use whenever they want.”
Mishra also weighed in on another major initiative, a lighter but potent “NG” version of the BrahMos, which he said could be test-fired from the the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mark 1A within the next two years. The missile, he added, would be a real game-changer.
“It is going to be the future of our armed forces,” he said. “Though initially designed for the Navy, we are now developing an air-to-air version,” he added, crediting Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra for the idea.
Mishra said Mitra had opined, soon after taking over in 2017, that India would not be able to sell the Tejas until it boasted of an Indian missile. He said BrahMos Aerospace, along with the DRDO and HAL, had already performed system studies and performance tests.
“Certain modification has been made to the LCA wing to carry the BrahMos, and some changes have been made to our missile too,” Mishra added, saying the BrahMos NG missile would have a range of at least 300 km.
He said the BrahMos NG would be used to hit slow-moving targets like a airborne warning and control systems (AWACS), transporters and refuellers. Mishra added that the BrahMos NG would be a great asset to submarines because it could even be fired from a torpedo tube.