Shailesh Kumar, National Defence
New Delhi, 22 November 2017
Brahmos, the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile created history on 22nd Nov 2017 after it was successfully flight-tested first time from the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) frontline fighter aircraft Sukhoi-30MKI against a sea based target in the Bay of Bengal.
The missile was gravity dropped from the Su-30 from fuselage, and the two stage missile’s engine fired up and straightway propelled towards the intended target at the sea in Bay of Bengal.
The launch from the aircraft was smooth and the missile followed the desired trajectory before directly hitting the ship target. The missile was fired by the test crew comprising Wg Cdr Prashant Nair and Wg Cdr KP Kiran Kumar. The chase aircraft was flown by Sqn Ldr Angad Pratap and Gp Capt Badrish N Athreya.
The successful maiden test firing of Brahmos Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) from Su-30MKI off Eastern Coast will significantly bolster the IAF’s air combat operations capability from stand-off ranges. Brahmos ALCM weighing 2.5 ton is the heaviest weapon to be deployed on India’s Su-30 fighter aircraft modified by HAL to carry weapons.
Brahmos, the world-class weapon with multi-platform, multi-mission role is now capable of being launched from Land, Sea and Air, completing the tactical cruise missile triad for India. Brahmos is a joint venture between DRDO of India and NPOM of Russia.
The air launched BrahMos missile is a 2.5 ton supersonic air to surface cruise missile with ranges of more than 400 kms. The range of the missile could increased only after India signed the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) on 26th June 2016. The IAF is the first Air Force in the world to have successfully fired an air launched 2.8 Mach surface attack missile of this category.
The integration on the aircraft was very complex involving mechanical, electrical and software modifications on aircraft. The IAF was totally involved in the activity from its inception. The rich experience of the IAF flight test crew ensured that the integration was smooth. The dedicated and synergetic efforts of the IAF, DRDO, BAPL and HAL have proven the capability of the nation to undertake such complex integrations on its own.
The firing could be successfully undertaken with dedicated support from Indian Navy by way of ensuring availability of the target and a large number of monitoring ships to ensure range safety clearance.
The software development of the aircraft was undertaken by the IAF engineers while the HAL carried out mechanical and electrical modifications on aircraft. One of the major challenges overcome by scientists of RCI, DRDO in the missile development was optimization of Transfer Alignment of the inertial sensors of the missile.
Raksha Mantri Nirmala Sitharaman congratulated DRDO and BrahMos for the outstanding accomplishment.
Dr S Christopher, Chairman DRDO & Secretary, Department of Defence R&D congratulated the Scientists and Engineers for this excellent text book kind of flight test.
The missile test was witnessed by Dr Sudhir Mishra, DG (BrahMos) & CEO & MD, BrahMos Aerospace along with senior IAF officials, Scientists and Officials from DRDO and BrahMos.
The BrahMos missile provides Indian Air Force a much desired capability to strike from large stand-off ranges on any target be in sea or land with pinpoint accuracy by day or night and in all weather conditions. The capability of the missile coupled with the superlative performance of the Su-30 aircraft gives the IAF a strategic reach and allows it to dominate the ocean and the battle fields.
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 15 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.