An Indian Army unit of the service’s Eastern Command test fired a BrahMos surface-to-surface supersonic cruise missile from Car Nicobar Island, the northermost of the Nicobar Islands, an archipelagic island chain in the eastern Indian Ocean.
The missile was reportedly fired at 1450 hours local time on May 22 during a joint training by the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force, according to an Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD).
“The combat missile was test fired on a specially designed target chosen at a range of 270 kilometers, thus validating deep penetration capability by the supersonic cruise missile and accurate engagement of targets in depth,” the statement reads.
The missile is a derivative of the Russian-made P-800 Oniks over-the-horizon supersonic anti-ship cruise missile, with a range estimated at between 300 to 400 kilometers. Capable of reaching a maximum speed of up to Mach 3, the BrahMos is thought to be one of the world’s fastest cruise missiles currently in operational use. The missile was inducted into the Army in 2007.
The MoD underlined the interservice coordination aspect of the recent firing. “The launch of the BrahMos missile involved coordination with large number of agencies for a successful and smooth conduct of firing,” the May 22 MoD statement notes. “It was a cohesive effort of all three services demonstrating high standards of inter service synergy.”
“BrahMos missile has by now established itself as a major ‘force multiplier’ in modern day battlefield with impeccable multi role and multi-platform launch capabilities furthering the confidence amongst our troops,” the MoD statement underlines.
India over the last few years has incrementally attempted to indigenize various components and subsystems of the BrahMos missile, including a new seeker and missile booster. An indigenous seeker and booster were both tested in 2018. As I explained last year, Russia continues to supply the BrahMos’ ramjet propulsion system and seeker technology, while India provides the inertial navigation system and fire control system.
An air-launched variant of the BrahMos is expected to become operational this year. Notably, the Indian Air Force (IAF) test fired an air-launched BrahMos-A supersonic cruise missile from a Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter on May 22. The missile was first flight tested from a Sukhhoi Su-30 in November 2017 over the Bay of Bengal.
Two IAF Su-30 MKI fighters have been converted to carry the air-launched variant of the BrahMos. A total of 40 Su-30 MKIs are expected to be retrofitted to carry the 2.5-ton supersonic air-to-surface cruise missile. Next to others, upgrades to the aircraft will include reinforcing the Su-30MKIs undercarriage and hardening its electronic circuitry.
India has also been working on an extended range BrahMos missile with an estimated range of 800 kilometers.