Hyper-sonic BrahMos 2 is becoming a distant dream for Indian Armed forces?
Russian-Indian joint venture Brahmos Aerospace was supposed to work on the development of hypersonic BrahMos 2 cruise missile which was later renamed as BrahMos 2K, K standing in memory for Kalam but the program development which has been in talks from 2011 onwards is yet to see the light of the day, makes many wonder, why the program is yet to take off and remains only to be seen at defense expo.
BrahMos 2K missile was capable of flying at speeds of Mach 5-Mach 7 and according to then BrahMos chief in 2012, they had carried out series of lab tests at the speed of 6.5 Mach and first fully-functional prototype of the missile was supposed to make it debut by 2017-18 which has long gone.
Hypersonic weapons are missiles and aircraft capable of reaching speeds of Mach 5 and more – or five times the speed of sound. They are extremely difficult to intercept due to their overwhelming speed and maneuvering capabilities.
BrahMos-II will confer on India a major strategic advantage in mountain warfare against China. The missile is designed to select targets hidden behind a mountain range.
The hypersonic weapon’s immense destructive power will result from kinetic energy. An object striking a target at 6 Mach will generate 36 times the force of an object of the same mass striking the target at 1 Mach. This phenomenon makes hypersonic weapons well suited to attacking hardened or deeply buried targets such as bunkers or nuclear and biological-weapon storage facilities.
While the US, China, and Russia have joined the Elite Hypersonic club, entry of India into it has been denied or refused to maintain elitism of the Hypersonic club, since it clearly seems that Russia is reluctant to transfer Hypersonic weapons system or is simply asking for too much money to develop BrahMos 2K with India. Like seen in the ASAT program, India will need to develop its own Hypersonic missile system to enter into this Elite Hypersonic club or be ready to be left out behind. since the Hypersonic missile system are considered as Game changer in any war, for now, Russia is holding the high bargaining chip and might have agreed to increase range of current BrahMos from Mach 2.9 to 3.5 only as interim measure to satisfy current need to modernize BrahMos system.
At Aero India 2015, the new CEO of BrahMos Aerospace, Sudhir Mishra said that scientists had quietly begun work on the hypersonic version of the supersonic BrahMos missile. He expressed the view that the India may be the first country in the world to field a hypersonic missile “in the next 7-12 years”. This pushed the timeline for the BrahMos II back to 2022-2027.
But in 2016, the marketing director of BrahMos Aerospace, Praveen Pathak, suggested that this was not true in an interview with the Russian TASS news service. He said that work on the hypersonic BrahMos would begin in 2022, and that a prototype would be ready two years later in 2024. At this point, it’s likely that earlier work on the hypersonic missile was wiped clean, since Pathak suggested that the missile’s shape and design were not known. During the interview, he stated that “the preliminary design is now being developed.”
In 2018 this was pushed back further. Mishra told the Times of India that “We will require seven to ten years from now to become a hypersonic missile system,” suggesting that the hypersonic BrahMos would only reach service between 2025 and 2028.
So where does the BrahMos II stand in 2019? In a report about the BrahMos at Aero India 2019, it was simply said that the hypersonic version would exist “in a few years.” While this is far more realistic, given that Russia has nearly completed development of its own missiles, time will tell if the BrahMos II is delayed yet again.
The BrahMos II project may suffer the same fate as many other Indian defense projects if a rapid need for a hypersonic missile is revealed in the region. While the original BrahMos project was a successful joint venture between India and Russia, it largely proceeded on schedule. BrahMos II has not.