The Times of India – India on Wednesday morning successfully test fired BrahMos-the supersonic anti-ship cruise missile-from the Interim-Test-Range, Balasore in Orissa. “The test was conducted from the static launcher in inclined mode successfully at 1120 hrs achieving maximum range. The flight has achieved all the mission objectives set for it,” defence ministry said here.
The missile, jointly developed with Russia, has a range of 300 kilometres and can carry a 200-kilogramme conventional warhead.
According to defence officials the cruise missile with its supersonic speed will be able to check movements by the Chinese warships, especially in the Indian Ocean.
Analysts note that the cruise missile is more than a match to similar anti-ship missiles named Moskit, which China has mounted on its recently acquired Soverameny-class warships.
Pakistan is not known to have such a missile. Besides, its extraordinary accuracy and speed increases the range of its targets.
The missile was first test-fired on June 12, 2001. The second test was conducted on April 28, 2002 and third on February12, 2003.
The Chief Controller (Research and Development), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) A Sivathanu Pillai had said recently that the supersonic cruise missile would be ready for commercial production and for induction into the defence armoury in the next two years.
The missile should enter full-scale serial production phase towards the end of this year after some more developmental flights a defence official said.
Indian and Russian scientists have been fine-tuning two basic BrahMos missile weapon complexes – a universal version configured for submarine, warship and shore-based systems; and a BrahMos-a airborne system for different aircraft. Though the specifications of the two complexes are more or less similar, the former is armed with a payload or warhead mass of 200 kg, while the latter’s is pegged at 300 kg.
BrahMos derives its name from the Brahmaputra and Moscow rivers in both countries and is designed for use with land, sea and aerial platforms.
The supersonic cruise missile was developed by a joint venture company with the same name formed in 1998 between the DRDO and Russia’s State Unitary Enterprise NPO Mashinostroyenia. Registered in December 1995, the company was set up as a result of an inter-governmental agreement between the two countries, eventually signed in February 1998, to design, develop, produce and market a supersonic cruise missile jointly.
The three-tonne, eight metre missile was first test-fired in June 2001. It can be launched from a variety of platforms including ships and aircraft.
The missile is a two-stage vehicle that has a solid propellant booster and a liquid (propellant) ram jet system.
According to analysts the successful test-firing is a crucial step forward in India’s defence efforts. This technological achievement places India among a small group of countries to acquire the capacity of producing cruise missiles.
Primarily BrahMos is an anti-ship missile. It has the capability to engage land based targets also. The missile can be launched either in vertical or inclined position and will cover 360 degrees.
Its unmatchable speed is its high point, making it invincible. The supersonic speed imparts it a greater strike-power as well.
The missile has identical configuration for land, sea and sub sea platforms. The air-launched version has a smaller booster and additional tail fins for stability during launch.
The special features of BrahMos are that it has a high supersonic velocity and a long flight range. Its shorter flight times lead to lower target dispersion and quicker engagement.
The missile which follows a ‘fire and forget’ principle operation has varieties of flight trajectories. The advantage of the missile is its higher destructive capability against ships aided by large kinetic energy of impact. It is universal for multiple platforms and has low radar signature.
Almost all other contemporary anti-ship missiles fly at subsonic speed. Its other distinguishing feature is that it is a state-of-the-art product.
The superiority of the BrahMos missile over a subsonic long range anti-ship missile is that it is 3 times higher in velocity, 2.5 to 3 times greater in flight range and 3 to 4 times higher in seeker range.
In order to avoid controversy, both India and Russia have taken care to ensure that the production of the cruise missile did not violate obligations under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) or any of the international agreements related to proliferation. That is why the missile range is well within the 300 km limit stipulated under the MTCR.