Home' Defence Review Asia : DRA March-April 2017 Contents DefenceReviewAsia | MARCH/APRIL 2017 25
of the Su-27/Su-30 are quite numerous: besides
Russia and India, we have Venezuela in South
America, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam
in Asia... Not to mention Ukraine, Uzbekistan,
Kazahstan and China or even Algeria, Ethiopia,
Eritrea and Uganda in Africa... Enough to make
Dr. S. K. Mishra's eyes glitter at the idea of future
export potential of this weapon.
AND SOON UNDER THE SEAS
The submarine-launched variant of BrahMos
validated its underwater strike capability in 2013.
The submarine-launched version was test fired
successfully for the first time from a submerged
pontoon in the Bay of Bengal on 20 March 2013.
This was the first vertical launch of a supersonic
cruise missile from a submerged platform. The
missile can be launched from a depth of 40 to
In late January 2016, Russia confirmed that future
Indian-made submarines would be armed with
smaller version of the missile that could fit inside a
torpedo tube. But this only remains a prospect for
the time being as the BrahMos 600 mm diameter
is a bit over the size of standard heavy torpedoes,
i.e. 533 mm. And a redesign of the current missile
--- under the new BrahMos-NG designation -- could
become a costly move impeding its normal serial
production. Whatever decision is made in New
Delhi this year or next year, such a smaller variant of
BrahMos would also be ideally suited for the MiG-
29K, Tejas and Rafale fighters, among others.
According to Dr. Mishra, a number of
enhancements are going on to keep the Russian-
Indian top missile well ahead of the competition,
with three strong points: "more speed, more
accuracy and more range". In truth, if the BrahMos
propulsion is still based on Russian technology, the
complete guidance system has been developed
by BrahMos Aerospace - something the Indian
industrial leadership is really proud of.
With New Delhi becoming a member of the
Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), India
and Russia are now planning to jointly develop for
their own use a new generation of BrahMos missiles
with a higher range and an ability to hit protected
targets with pinpoint accuracy!
15 YEARS IN THE MAKING
Let's remember that the early development of this
ramjet missile came to fruition 15 years ago when a
live BrahMos was first test-fired at Chandripur, India
on 12 June 2001 from the Integrated Test Range
(ITR), in a vertical launch configuration. On 14
June 2004, another test was conducted at ITR and
BrahMos was this time fired from a mobile launcher.
On 5 March 2008, the land attack version of the
missile was fired from the Indian Navy destroyer INS
Rajput and the missile hit and sunk the right target
among a group of several dispersed sea targets.
Then, on 18 December 2008, the vertical launch
of the weapon was conducted from the sister-
destroyer INS Ranvir class.
For its part, the BrahMos Block-I for the Indian
Army was successfully tested (albeit with new
aiming capabilities) in the Rajasthan desert, at a
test range near Pokharan, in December 2004 and
March 2007. In March 2009, another advanced
variant of the missile was test fired to identify
a building among a cluster of buildings in an
urban environment. BrahMos successfully hit the
intended target within two and a half minutes of
launch. According to official sources, "The new
seeker is unique and would help us to hit targets,
which are insignificant in terms of size, in a cluster
of large buildings."
India was said at that time to be the only nation
in the world with this advanced technology.
Whatever the official words are, the Indian Army is
absolutely satisfied with its new missile. The tests
marked the completion of the development phase
of BrahMos Block-II before its induction into field
service. Finally, more tests of BrahMos set a world
record for being the first cruise missile to be tested
at supersonic speeds in steep-dive mode, thus
leading to the development of a further model:
More tests then continued to improve speed,
precision and range. On 7 October 2012, the
Indian Navy successfully test-fired BrahMos from
the guided missile frigate INS Teg. This new highly
manoeuvrable version was fitted with advanced
satellite navigation systems, turning it into a "super-
rocket" capable of hitting targets nearly 300km
from sea, land or air launchers. On 7 April 2014,
one of the Indian Army's missile regiments tested
a modified and upgraded Block-III variant with
''steep dive target '' discrimination mode suitable
for mountain warfare operations. The weapon was
also capable of performing deep penetration strikes
against hardened targets. This advanced variant
is being deployed with the newly raised Mountain
Strike Corps of the Indian Army.
On 8 July 2014, Brahmos Aerospace conducted
the 44th test launch of the missile from ITR. This
time towards a designated target 290 km away.
It was the first test of the missile in supersonic
dive mode against a hidden land target employing
a new Indian software algorithm and multiple
SatNav (satellite navigation) systems for guidance,
without the usual homing system. The new
navigation system uses an Indian computer chip
called G3OM (using on the same module either
US GPS, Russian Glonass and even GPS-aided
Geo-augmented signals). The indigenous system
weighs less than 20 grammes, and provides a final
accuracy below 5 metres --- using Indian, US and
Russian navigation satellites. This can be used in
tandem with any inertial navigation system, thus
adding high-accuracy targeting, all this without the
use of any terminal seeker.
MORE AND MORE
In the wake of Dr. Mishra's mantra (more speed,
more accuracy, more range), newer versions of
BrahMos are now under development. With India
becoming a member of MTCR in 2016 --- New
Delhi and Moscow are now planning to jointly
develop a new generation of BrahMos missiles with
higher range and with the ability to hit protected
targets with pinpoint precision. This would come as
a new missile or an extended upgrade that should
be applied on request to all existing BrahMos
But the focus is now certainly on designing the
BrahMos-II. This futuristic variant is a hypersonic
cruise missile currently at a conceptual stage.
Like BrahMos-I, the range of BrahMos-II had also
been limited to 290km to comply with the MTCR.
With a speed of Mach 7.0, the new weapon would
have more than twice the speed of the current
BrahMos missile, and it will thus become the
fastest hypersonic missile in the world, some two
Mach points over the French nuclear-tipped MBDA
ASMP-A, currently holding the world's operational
Development of BrahMos-II is expected to
continue for at least a full decade.
With India becoming a member of MTCR in 2016 --- New Delhi and
Moscow are now planning to jointly develop a new generation of
BrahMos missiles with higher range and with the ability to hit protected
targets with pinpoint precision.
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