IDEX 2019

Packing a punch [IDEX19D4]

20 February 2019

Indian-Russian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace has just celebrated the 21st anniversary of an intergovernmental agreement between the Indian and Russian governments that paved the way for the joint development of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.

BrahMos Aerospace is a joint venture of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia.

Drawing extensively on technology developed by NPO Mashinostroyenia for the Yakhont supersonic anti-ship missile system, BrahMos uses a liquid-fuel ramjet engine to achieve a maximum speed of Mach 2.5, reaching a range of 290km with a hi-lo trajectory (cruising at an altitude of 14,000m) or 120km with a lo-lo trajectory. In the final stage of flight, BrahMos descends to make a terminal approach at an altitude of 10-15m.

Originally designed as a surface-to-surface guided weapon to equip Indian Navy surface ships, the BrahMos programme has spawned variants for coastal defence and land attack. This continued evolution has also seen the development of a mobile land-based system for the Indian Army, and a lighter-weight air-launched variant for the air force.

The latter version completed carriage tests on an Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter for the first time in June 2016. A first test firing followed in November 2017, with the BrahMos missile being fired against a ship-like target in the Bay of Bengal.

This flight test was preceded in May that year by consecutive tests of the BrahMos Block III land attack missile in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These back-to-back live trials demonstrated the missile’s ability to execute a steep dive attack profile onto a land target.

Three major test milestones occurred in 2018. In March, a BrahMos missile with an indigenously developed Indian seeker was successfully test fired at the Pokhran test ranges in Rajasthan.

On 21 May, a test firing was completed at Balasore, Odisha, to validate the missile service life extension programme. The following day, a second test was performed from a mobile autonomous launcher to prove major subsystems manufactured indigenously under the ‘Make in India’ programme.

BrahMos is also capable of being vertically launched from a submarine.

This version was successfully test fired in March 2013 from an underwater platform in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Visakhapatnam.

(367 words)