Indian Air Force keeps Brahmos-A on high readiness

The Indian Air Force (IAF) continues to validate the capabilities of the Brahmos-A (air-launched) supersonic cruise missile, claiming a successful live-fire test of the missile from an IAF Sukhoi Su-30 MKI multirole combat aircraft off the eastern coast on 19 April.

“The missile achieved a direct hit on the target, a decommissioned Indian Navy ship,” the IAF announced on its social media account on the same day, noting that the mission was s undertaken in close coordination with the navy.

BrahMos-A was only recently cleared for serial production, following a successful trial that was conducted from the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO’s) integrated test range in Chandipur on 8 December 2021.

Extensive flight testing with the missile were conducted by the IAF between November 2017 and July 2021, after captive carriage tests were carried out in 2020. The first Brahmos-A Sukhoi Su-30 MKI squadron was commissioned during the same year.

Derived from the baseline naval and ground-launched systems that have already entered service around a decade ago, the Brahmos-A is a two-stage missile that measures 8.3 metres long and weighs around 2.5 tonnes. It uses a solid-fuel rocket at launch and employs an air-breathing liquid-fuelled ramjet that enables it to attain a speed of up to Mach 2.8 out to a maximum claimed range of 300 kilometres.

The missile was developed by BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture firm established in February 1998 by the DRDO and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM) with an initial capital of US$250 million, with India owning 50.5 percent of equity and Russia the remaining 49.5 percent.

The company is also developing a lighter variant of the air-launched BRAHMOS called Brahmos NG for the Tejas Mk 1A Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and the hypersonic Brahmos II. A submarine-launched variant is also understood to be undergoing testing.

However, the joint venture could be potentially affected by the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine with growing international pressure and western sanctions being imposed on countries that maintain commercial and military ties and trade with Moscow. India, for its part, has been actively developing indigenous components for the Brahmos missile over the years, which may help mitigate potential component supply issues over the longer term.

by Jr Ng