India and Russia are developing a new lightweight variant of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile for use on submarines and the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA (Perspektivny Aviatsionny Kompleks Frontovoy Aviatsii) fifth-generation fighter, Russia's TASS news agency reported on 27 January.
"We are working on the missile's light version. It should fit the size of a [533 mm] torpedo tube and be almost 1.5 times [lighter]. It will be possible to mount our airborne missile on a wide range [of aircraft]," Alexander Leonov, general designer and director of Russia's NPO Mashinostroyeniya was quoted as saying.
"We'll be developing it, first of all, for the fifth-generation [aircraft] but, possibly, it will be mounted on the MiG-35 fighter, although we have not carried out such developments," he added.
The BrahMos design is a co-operative programme led by India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPO Mash) in Russia. The original BrahMos missile is based on the Yakhont supersonic cruise missile, which is the export version of the Russian domestic P-800 (3M55) Oniks missile.
While the original BrahMos retains much of the Russian missile's aerodynamic design and manufactured components, it uses a number of Indian-made onboard systems.
All variants of the Brahmos are reported to have a range of 290 km and carry a warhead weighing between 200 kg and 300 kg.
The acronym BrahMos was coined by combining the names of the most famous rivers in the two nations: the Brahmaputra in India and the Moscow River in Russia.
The latest announcement came less than six months after India resurrected the stalled Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) programme it launched with Russia in 2007-08 by agreeing to pay USD3.7 billion over seven years towards furthering the project.
In September 2016 both sides agreed that each country would pay USD1 billion on signing the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA fighter developmental contract on which the FGFA is based, and USD450 million annually thereafter for the six years it will take to confirm the FGFA's final design for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
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