Adreesh Ghoshal

May 22, 2019

4 min read

Brahmos missile successfully test-fired from Su-30 MKI

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The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was successfully test-fired from a Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft on May 22, 2019. This is the second successful test of the air-launched version of the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile.

The test, which was monitored by surface vessels of the Indian Navy, fulfilled all necessary performance parameters. The launch and separation of the missile went off smoothly, with the following the desired trajectory before hitting the designated target.

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This is the second time an air-launched test of the 2.5-ton supersonic air-to-surface version of the BrahMos missile was carried out successfully. In the first test held on November 22, 2017, the IAF created history by being the first to successfully air-launch a Mach 2.8-capable surface attack cruise missile, anywhere in the world.

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In both tests, the missile entered a stage of free-fall after being detached from the belly of the Su-30 MKI launch platform. Then, a single-stage solid-fuel rocket booster first ignited. When it was jettisoned, the second stage, a liquid-fuelled ram-jet took over. This propelled the missile to a top speed of Mach 2.8 and a maximum range of 300km.

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The BrahMos cruise missile has been jointly developed by Russian Federation’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). To develop and manufacture this missile, a joint venture, Brahmos Aerospace Limited was founded in 1998. The company, based in New Delhi, has production centers in Hyderabad and Trivandrum, with DRDO setting up the third one in Nagpur.

The BrahMos missile is a highly modified version of the P-700 Granit, a mid-range cruise missile. The propulsion system is based on the Russian missile, whereas the guidance systems were developed by BrahMos Aerospace.

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Currently, the missile can be launched via ship, submarine, and land. The following versions of the missile are currently in service

  1. Air-launched cruise missile (Max range — 400km)
  2. Anti-ship cruise missile (Max range — 450km)
  3. Surface-to-Surface cruise missile (Max range — 450km)
  4. Submarine-launched cruise missile (Max range — 450km)

The surface/sea-launched versions will soon come with an extended 600km range and hypersonic capability as well.

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Since the BrahMos is primarily a sea-launched missile, the following classes of Indian Navy vessels operate the medium-range supersonic missile:

  1. Rajput-class destroyers
  2. Talwar-class frigate
  3. Shivalik-class frigate
  4. Kolkata-class destroyer
  5. Vishakapatnam-class destroyer
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The Indian Army operates land-launched versions of the BrahMos. The operational BrahMos missile regiments are:

  1. 861 Regiment (BrahMos Block I, deployed in North Rajasthan)
  2. 862 Regiment (BrahMos Block II, deployed in South Rajasthan)
  3. 863 Regiment (BrahMos Block II)
  4. 864 Regiment (BrahMos Block II, to be deployed in Arunachal Pradesh)
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The general specifications of the BrahMos missile are as below.

Mass — 3,000kg (6,600 lbs), 2,500 kg for air-launched version

Length — 8.4 m (28 ft.)

Diameter — 0.6 m (2 ft.)

Warhead

  1. 200kg (440 lbs) conventional semi-armor piercing and nuclear
  2. 300kg (660 lbs) air-launched

Engine

  1. First stage — solid-fuel rocket booster
  2. Second stage — liquid-fuel ramjet

Operational ranges — 400 to 600 km depending on the version

Maximum altitude — 15km (49,000 ft.)

Flight altitude — Sea-skimming, as low as 3–4 meters (15–20 ft. ASL)

Speed — Mach 2.8 to Mach 3 (3.400 to 3.700 kph)

Accuracy — 1m circular error probable ( 50% of the rounds will land within 1 m of the target)

Guidance system

  1. Mid-course guidance by Inertial Navigation system
  2. Terminal guidance by active radar homing, GPS, GLONASS, GAGAN satellite guidance
Dr. Sudhir Mishra, Distinguished Scientist & Director General BrahMos, CEO and MD BrahMos Aerospace with Mr. Jamshyd N. Godrej, Chairman and Managing Director, Godrej, and Boyce. Source

Incidentally, Godrej Aerospace recently delivered the first of 100 airframes for the BrahMos missile. The company also supplies the control surfaces, the nose- cones, the mobile autonomous launchers, and missile servicing vehicles for the land-launched BrahMos variant.

At least five countries have expressed interest in acquiring the BrahMos. If the negotiations come to fruition, it will be a historic achievement for BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited.

Jai Hind.

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