New Delhi: Development of a hypersonic version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile will begin this year, while tests of the air-launched version of the existing missile will begin next year, a senior Russian official said Sunday.
Russian director of BrahMos Alexander Maksichev said that the India-Russia joint venture BrahMos Aerospace will this year itself begin development of a BrahMos hypersonic missile.
“During the year, we are planning to start work on a hypersonic missile, BrahMos-2. This will be a completely new missile,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function to mark the first launch 10 years ago of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile by the India-Russia joint venture.
Tests of the airborne version of the current missiles would start next year.
“We expect to be able to start the tests of BrahMos missiles launched from aircraft. Various types of aircraft, including Su-30 MKI fighters, are expected to be armed with these missiles,” Maksichev said.
Maksichev’s remarks came as former Indian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam favoured the development of a reusable hypersonic cruise missile to help India maintain its supremacy in the global arena for this military technology.
“You should develop a hypersonic version of BrahMos which can be reused…meaning that the missile should be able to deliver its payload and return to base. This will help in maintaining our leadership in this arena,” Kalam, considered the father of India’s missile programme, said in his address the function.
India, in collaboration with Russia, is a leader in the supersonic cruise missile technology and they are the only countries which now have such missiles inducted into their armed forces.
BrahMos Aerospace chief A. Sivathanu Pillai, who also spoke on the occasion, said BrahMos was a unique missile, which can be configured for multiple types of platforms for use against targets on land and at sea.
“Its competitor is yet to be born. Its speed and devastating power has made it unparalleled,” he said.
The missile system has already been inducted into the Indian Army and the Indian Navy. The air-launched version of the missile is soon to be integrated on Indian Air Force’s potent Sukhoi fighter jets.
BrahMos’ order book, from all the three Indian armed forces, is full for the next 10 years. Work is also underway to develop a submarine-launched version of the missile.
The missile was first launched 10 years ago June 12, Russia’s National Day, from the interim test range at Chandipur-on-sea. The name BrahMos is derived from the names of two rivers — the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.
The supersonic cruise missile is capable of touching top speeds of Mach 2.8 and is about three times faster than the American Tomahawk subsonic cruise missile. The BrahMos missile has a range of 290 km and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg. It can effectively engage targets from an altitude as low as 10 meters.
BrahMos Aerospace was established in 1998.