The Indian Ministry of Defense’s research arm, the Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO), conducted a test launch of an extended range version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur off the coast of the eastern Indian state of Odisha on March 11, according to a statement by the Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace.
“In a historical first, the formidable missile system once again proved its mettle to precisely hit enemy targets at much higher range than the current range of 290 km, with supersonic speed of 2.8 Mach,” the statement reads. According to sources, the standoff engagement range of the improved BrahMos will be approximately 600 kilometers.
“During the launch at 1130 hours, the land-attack version of the supersonic cruise missile system met its mission parameters in a copybook manner. It was a text book launch achieving 100 percent results, executed with high precision from the Mobile Autonomous Launcher (MAL) deployed in full configuration,” the statement continued.
The BrahMos is a joint venture between DRDO and Russian rocket design bureau NPO Mashinostroyeniya. The jointly developed two-stage missile is a derivative of the Russian P-800 Oniks over-the-horizon supersonic anti-ship cruise missile and first entered service with the Indian military in 2006. It is twice as heavy and allegedly four times faster than the American Tomahawk subsonic cruise missile.
With top speeds of Mach 2.8 to 3, the BrahMos is considered to be the world’s fastest cruise missile currently in operation. The BrahMos operates on a so-called fire and forget principle. The missile’s terminal altitude is as low as 10 meters; the ship-launched anti-ship version of the BrahMos can fly three to four meters above the sea to avoid detection.
Both the land-launched and sea-launched variants of the missile are already in service. An air-launched version of the missile, the so-called BrahMos-A, is expected to become operational with the Indian Air Force in the near future. BrahMos cruise missiles of all variants can alternatively be fitted with conventional or nuclear warheads.
“With the successful test firing of BrahMos Extended Range missile, BrahMos-ER, the Indian Armed Forces will be empowered to knock down enemy targets far beyond the 400 kilometers. BrahMos has thus proved its prowess once again as the best supersonic cruise missile system in the world,” the CEO and managing director of BrahMos Aerospace said following the successful test launch.
The upgrade of the missile followed India’s entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which removed caps on the missile’s range. Previous restrictions prohibited Russia from supplying India with the necessary technology to do so.