Air Force Successfully Tests Brahmos

A mock-up of a BrahMos missile. Note the Indian and Russian flags painted on the weapon’s fuselage. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Indian Air Force successfully test fired a BrahMos cruise missile from a Sukhoi-30MKI on Wednesday. The missile hit a pre-designated target in the Bay of Bengal.

The aircraft was specially modified to mount the 2.5 ton air launched cruise missile. ‘The missile was gravity dropped from the Su-30 from fuselage, and the two stage missile’s engine fired up,’ an official statement read.

According to the official release, the test will ‘significantly bolster the IAF’s air combat operations capability from stand-off ranges.’

The BrahMos programme is a joint venture between India’s DRDO and Russian rocket design bureau NPOM. Official literature generally lists the missile’s range as 290 kilometres, just under the 300-kilometre maximum range specified by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). However, with India having joined the MTCR last year, DRDO may be able to extend the missile’s range to 400 kilometres.

With its increased striking range, 200-kilogram warhead, and top speed of Mach 2.8 (which makes it the world’s fastest cruise missile), the BrahMos could seriously increase the striking power of India’s armed forces.

Several frigates and destroyers of the Indian Navy already deploy the BrahMos, which makes for a formidable anti-ship weapon. But other variants have been under testing. In April the frigate INS Teg test fired a land attack version. And in May, the army tested another land attack version from a ground-based launcher. (Four regiments of the army already field versions of the BrahMos missile. The army reportedly ‘began moving firing units’ of the missiles during the Doklam standoff earlier this year.)

Many more steps will need to be taken before new versions of the BrahMos missile are inducted. DRDO engineers will have to review technical parameters of the latest test. After that, more test launches may be required, budgets will need to be allocated, and production will need to step up.

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