The integration of the new BrahMos missile on to Sukhoi’s Su-30MKI long-range fighter is due to reach a key milestone this year with integration of the weapon on test aircraft, ahead of planned first deliveries to the Indian Air Force (IAF) next year.
Shivathnu Pillai, CEO and managing director of BrahMos Aerospace, told AIN, “We faced many challenges…it has already gone to the Navy and the Army, and the Indian Air Force will get it next year.” Earlier this year, the Indian Navy successfully tested a highly maneuverable version of a sea-based BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.
The IAF is planning to arm 40 Su-30MKI Flanker-H fighters with BrahMos missiles, which have been developed through an India-Russia joint venture. “We plan to integrate the missile with the Su-30s next year,” said Pillai, who admitted that weight has been an issue. “The BrahMos is 2.5 [metric] tons… we need to strengthen the structure of the aircraft and bring the weight down. We also need to strengthen the rocket launcher, for which tests have already been carried out. The first test will be done at the end of 2013. Induction in the IAF will be in 2015,” he continued. “The pontoon test will be done this year and then we go into new variants.” The submarine firing was delayed as it needed a platform, which was “locked on to another project,” Pillai said.
Russia and India recently agreed to develop hypersonic BrahMos 2 missile capable of flying at speeds of Mach 5-7.