Friday, August 22, 2008

Submarine-launched version of BrahMos missile to be tested in India at year-end

The Indo-Russian BrahMos multi-role supersonic cruise missile is in full production with deliveries being made to Indian Navy and Army. A complete battery of land-based missiles is also in service with the Army, BrahMos Aerospace chief executive, Dr Sivathanu Pillai said here.

Speaking at the MSVS-2008 show in Moscow, he said that the Indo-Russian joint venture is looking at producing 40-50 missiles annually in order to meet Indian requirements. This will be increased to handle export orders.

The Mach 2.8 supersonic, ramjet-powered BrahMos may be exported in 2009. "2009 should be the year" for announcing export orders, Dr Pillai said.
He also said that a major production contract had just been signed.

Dr Pillai also said that warplane designer and manufacturer Sukhoi's workload on other projects, such as the Su-35 and PAK-FA fifth generation fighter has delayed work on creating a platform for the air launched version of the BrahMos. The "critical path" for tests of the air launched version of the BrahMos, is the modification of a Su-30MKI fighter as a test platform.

Sukhoi and the Indian Air Force have decided on a single-missile configuration for the Su-30MKI, rather than a two-or three-missile version. For this, the aircraft needs a new pylon as well as structural strengthening and a modified fire-control system to handle the new missile.

Also under consideration is an air launched version for the Indian Navy's Tu-142 maritime patrol aircraft, which may be modified to carry 6-8 missiles. The dilemma is whether the impending retirement of these aircraft from active service makes their modification worth the effort. 

As for a submarine-launched version, the missile has already been launched from a static, underwater test stand in Russia and underwater tests in India will be carried out at the end of the year. The BrahMos's Russian precursor, the 3M55/P-800 Oniks, was designed for submarine launch.

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