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.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

India, Nasa tie up for Chandrayaan

Preparing to its first unmanned mission to moon, Chandrayaan-1, between October and December, India joined seven other nations to team up with Nasa for the future exploration of earth's only satellite.

Confirming this, Isro spokesperson S Satish told TOI that a key pact was signed at a conference of International Lunar Users' Group at Nasa's Ames Research Centre last month. India was represented by Devi Prasad Karnik, space counsellor attached to the Indian embassy in Washington. The other seven countries are Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, France and Britain. Japan has already launched an unmanned mission to the moon. Germany, Italy and Britain had announced at International Astronautical Congress in 2007 that they planned their own lunar missions which would be independent of the European Space Agency.

The international lunar agreement, which Nasa says a "landmark" one, will allow India and the seven countries to join hands with Nasa for developing new technologies and send robotic exploratory missions for a manned return mission to the moon.

For Nasa, the lunar agreement is important as the eight countries, including India, are keen to send astronauts to the moon. Experts say the increased interest in the lunar science and the emergence of India, Japan and China as important space-faring nations will also help Nasa.