India new air launched BrahMos cruise missile and hypersonic and long range variants

India will but the BrahMos-A airlaunched heavy cruise missile into service starting around the end of 2017.

In 25 June 2016 as a modified Su-30MKI carrying BrahMos-A underwent a successful trial flight. It was he first time a heavyweight supersonic cruise missile had been integrated on a long-range fighter aircraft. The project started in 2011 but has been bogged down. To carry the missile, the Su-30MKI undercarriage had to be strengthened, which also required new hard points and structural modifications. The cost of adapting the BrahMos for air launch was “phenomenal,” but efforts to downsize the missile were abandoned after an attempt to reduce the size of the ramjet. 40 IAF Su-30s are to be equipped to carry the missile.

The air launched cruise missile will be put into service after tests in the Indian Ocean in September-October.

BrahMos, a word combining Brahmaputra and Moscow, is a name for a missile created within the framework of the joint efforts of both India and Russia. The missile can carry a conventional warhead of up to 660 pounds. BrahMos missiles can be launched from warships and submarines as well as from aircraft and land-based launchers.

The missile travels at speeds of Mach 2.8 to 3.0.

Other missile variants under development

A hypersonic version of the missile, BrahMos-II, is also presently under development with a speed of Mach 7-8 to boost aerial fast strike capability. It will start testing this year.

India and Russia are now planning to jointly develop a new generation of Brahmos extendeed range missiles with 600 km-plus range (instead of 290-450 km) and an ability to hit protected targets with pinpoint accuracy.

BrahMos-NG (Next Generation) is a mini version based on the existing BrahMos, will have same 290 km range and mach 3.5 speed but it will weigh around 1.5 tons, 5 meters in length and 50 cm in diameter, making BrahMos-NG 50 percent lighter and three meters shorter than its predecessor. The system is expected to be inducted in the year 2017. BrahMos-NG will have lesser RCS (radar cross section) compared to its predecessor, making it harder for air defense systems to locate and engage the target. BrahMos-NG will have Land, Air, ship-borne and Submarine tube-launched variants. First test flight is expected to take place in 2017–18.

India and Russia intend to make 2,000 BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles over the next ten years through their joint venture company, and nearly 50% of them are expected to be exported to friendly countries.