Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is reportedly set to equip the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Su-30MKI fighter jets with the air-launched version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile by March.
HAL chairman RK Tyagi was quoted by Indo-Asian News Service as saying that two of IAF Su-30MKI jets are being integrated with the missile at the company’s facility in Nashik, Maharashtra.
Tyagi added: "We have also recently conducted the critical ground vibration test (GVT) on a Sukhoi to modify it for carrying the missile under its fuselage for combat role.
"The vibration tests were conducted in nine configurations to assess the dynamic behaviour of the modified Sukhoi platform."
HAL director S Subrahmanyan said, according to The Times of India: "The initial requirement is for two Su-30MKIs with BrahMos.
"The first one will fly in March and we will take up the second one in line."
The air-launched variant is called BrahMos-A. It will use air breathing scramjet propulsion technology aboard IAF Su-30MKI fighters to enhance their conventional offensive capabilities.
In October 2012, the Indian Cabinet Committee on Security cleared a Rs60bn ($1.1bn) proposal for the acquisition of 200 BrahMos air-launched variants.
Forty-two 42 Su-30MKIs have been earmarked by the IAF has earmarked for structural and software modifications to carry 216 missiles.
The BrahMos is built by Brahmos Aerospace in a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia. It is a stealth supersonic cruise missile designed for launch from land, ship, submarines, and air platforms.
The solid propellant rocket-powered missile is capable of travelling at a speed of Mach 2.8. It can intercept surface targets by flying as low as 10m above the ground, even in mountainous terrain and hillocks, and has already been inducted by the Indian Army and Navy.
Image: The air-launched version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile at MAKS2009 in Russia. Photo: courtesy of Allocer.