BrahMos missiles fly farther and faster
The latest version of the BrahMos (abbreviated combo, Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers) supersonic cruise missile –fitted with an indigenous seeker – was successfully flight tested March 22, 2018, at the Pokhran test range in Rajasthan. Developed jointly by Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) and BrahMos Aerospace, the supersonic cruise missile and the seeker, a precision strike weapon, flew in its designated trajectory and hit the pre-set target.
The flight test was conducted by the scientists of DRDO and BrahMos along with the Indian Army. Chairman DRDO & Secretary DDR&D Dr S Christopher DG (Missiles & Strategic Systems) & SA to RM Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Director General BrahMos Dr. Sudhir Mishra, Programme Director Dr. Dashrath Ram and Project Director Mrs V Prameela who had led the effort for the development of the indigenous seeker and senior Indian Army and Air Force officials witnessed the successful launch.
BrahMos supersonic cruise missile systems are held by the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force.
In 2007, Indian Army became the world’s first land force to deploy the tactical BrahMos. Presently, the Army operates three regiments equipped with various configurations of BrahMos land attack cruise missile (LACM). A fourth BrahMos regiment is currently under formation and its cruise missiles, of 290-kms range, will improve India’s striking reach into the Tibet Autonomous Region and counter China’s elaborate missile deployment along the Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control.
On March 11 2017, Indian Army successfully test fired an enhanced BrahMos extended range (ER) version. “With the successful test-firing of BrahMos-ER missile, the Indian Armed Forces are empowered to knock down enemy targets far beyond 400 kilometers. BrahMos has thus proved itself as the best supersonic cruise missile system in the world,” remarked Dr. Mishra, after the successful test.
On May 2 and 3 of 2017, the Army yet again conducted two successive successful test firings of an advanced BrahMos version. According to an Army statement, the test was the fifth consecutive time when the Block-III version of BrahMos LACM was successfully launched and hit the land-based target in “top-attack mode” — a formidable feat not achieved by any other weapon of its genre.
The successful firings were carried out in full operational land-to-land configurations from mobile autonomous launchers (MAL) at its full range. The Army stated that the multi-role missile “successfully hit the land-based target with desired precision and demonstrated its accuracy of less than one meter.” The MAL deployed in full configuration, once again proved its effectiveness/accuracy to precisely hit its target at a much higher range than the current range of 290-kms, with a supersonic speed of 2.8 Mach.
The lethal BrahMos has become part the Indian Navy’s arsenal as well. Operational in all frontline naval platforms, can be fired from both vertical and inclined launchers. It has also been successfully test-fired from a submerged platform to prove its fitness for the Indian Navy’s new, yet-to-be-inducted P-75I class of attack submarines.
The Indian Navy, which started inducting the anti-ship BrahMos in 2005, has today armed all its frontline warships with the versatile weapon. BrahMos’ underwater strike capability was validated during its successful test firing mission conducted from a submerged platform in 2013. Dr. Mishra reportedly opined that the powerful missile is going to be the best weapon of choice to arm the future Indian submarines which are to be procured under the P-75I programme.
On April 21, 2017, the Indian Navy achieved a major feat when it successfully test-fired BrahMos LACM, thus joining an elite club of navies of US, Russia, UK and China who have developed the capability of striking land-based targets from sea. The missile was fired from the Navy’s guided missile frigate INS Teg on a land target with desired results. Majority of the Indian Navy’s leading surface warfare ships like the Kolkata, Rajput and Teg classes have got the capability of firing the supersonic cruise missile to precisely neutralize selected targets far away from the coast.
In yet another historic feat on November 22, 2017, the air launched version of BrahMos created a world record after it was successfully test fired from the Indian Air Force’s Sukhoi-30MKI multirole fighter. The advanced BrahMos air launched cruise missile with precision strike capability hit a sea-based target in the Bay of Bengal during the live test firing, making India the first country in the world to achieve the capability of launching a supersonic cruise missile from a long-range supersonic strike fighter. BrahMos Aerospace, which way back in February 1998 turned out to be the maiden Make in India joint venture, has also initiated work to develop a smaller, smarter version of the versatile missile which could arm a wide range of modern naval and aerial platforms in future. A long-term future goal for which BrahMos Aerospace is going all out is to develop a hypersonic version of the missile. The new futuristic weapon, which could bring in a quantum leap in missile technology, would be called BrahMos-II (K). According to Dr. Mishra, the R&D programme for the futuristic weapon is currently underway and it requires a lot of groundwork and fundamental research. “The missile’s speed is a crucial aspect for its annihilating power. The entire missile, including its shape, will be redesigned and I assume it will take some 5 to 7 years when we reach practical results,” he said.
Even as many countries in Asia and other parts of the world are looking forward to acquire submarine technology to defend their economic zones, BrahMos Aerospace is confident that the versatile missile systems can be easily integrated into the existing as well as prospective submarines, shore-based weapon complexes, ships and other combat platforms in various regions, including in Latin America.
BrahMos Aerospace’s CEO is thus hopeful of a higher demand for missiles from the international market. And his brimming confidence comes from the fact that the weapon, flight tested over 60 times from ground, sea and air platforms has achieved the highest rate of success, successfully piercing its target precisely, almost like hitting the bull’s eye, in most of these trials. The technology upgrade comes after India’s full membership to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which has removed the caps on the range of BrahMos.
With all these successes, BrahMos Aerospace is now looking optimistically at the future prospects of designing and developing even more advanced variants of the missile, including a lighter, miniature one, to be called BrahMos-NG (next generation) and a hypersonic variant, to be called BrahMos-II (K).
The BrahMos-NG will have the versatility to be deployed on a wide range of existing as well as future military platforms of both India and Russia. It provides the existing frontline air and naval platforms of several countries with the choice of deploying a versatile, flexible and universal supersonic cruise missile system in a lighter, smaller and compact configuration..
Development of the hypersonic BrahMos will be a revolutionary chapter in the global missile technology domain, as the futuristic weapon would have the capability to fly at an ultra-high speed of Mach 5-7.
Anil Bhat, a retired Army officer, is a defence and security analyst based in New Delhi
Source:- The Asian Age