Asia Defense | Security | South Asia

India Test Fires 2 BrahMos Supersonic Missiles From Air and Land Platforms

Brahmos missiles were reportedly test fired from a Su-30 MIK fighter and a land-based mobile launcher.

Franz-Stefan Gady
India Test Fires 2 BrahMos Supersonic Missiles From Air and Land Platforms
Credit: Indian Ministry of Defense

India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) test fired two BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles on December 17, the Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in a statement.

An air-launched BrahMos-A missile was reportedly fired from a Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter aircraft against a sea target, while a surface-to-surface variant of the missile was fired from a land-based mobile launcher against an unidentified target.

The trial of the BrahMos land-attack variant took place at Launch Complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, Odisha. All test objectives were met, according to DRDO sources.

In the statement, the MoD emphasized that “most of the components were indigenous, including the missile airframe, fuel management system and DRDO designed seeker.” DRDO has incrementally been attempting to indigenize various components and subsystems of the BrahMos, including fitting it with a new seeker and missile booster. An indigenous seeker and booster were both first tested in 2018.

The BrahMos 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. The ground-launched surface-to-surface BrahMos was first inducted into service with the Indian Army in 2007.

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The December 17 test launch of the BrahMos-A in user configuration took place off the coast of Odisha. According to the MoD, with today’s test launch the integration of the BrahMos-A on the SU-30MKI has been completed, marking a major milestone for the BrahMos program and the IAF. It “was the third (…)  live launch of the weapon and with this launch, the integration of the missile on Su-30MKI aircraft, is complete,” the MoD said in the December 17 statement.

The statement goes on to describe the test firing in detail: “During the test, the missile was gravity dropped from the air combat platform’s fuselage and the two-stage weapon’s engine fired up and the missile straightaway propelled towards the intended target positioned at the sea, piercing it with pin point accuracy.” The missile can be dropped from 500 to 14,000 meters (1,640 to 46,000 feet) by the Su-30MKI, according to BrahMos Aerospace.

The DRDO and IAF last test fired a BrahMos-A from a Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter on May 22. The missile was first flight tested from a Sukhhoi Su-30MKI in November 2017 over the Bay of Bengal. At the time, the IAF said that it expected the the air-launched variant to become operational by the end of this year.

To date, only two IAF Su-30 MKI fighters have been converted to carry the air-launched variant of the BrahMos. The Indian government officially approved the integration of the BrahMos-A into the Su-30MKI in 2016 and integration work began at the end of 2017. Forty Su-30 MKIs are expected to be retrofitted to carry the 2.5-ton supersonic cruise missile. Overall, the IAF plans procure 200 BrahMos-A missiles.