The Indian Air Force (IAF) is planning to start testing of the 290km BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from its Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets, by the end of 2014.
BrahMos Aerospace chief Sivathanu Pillai was quoted by The Times of India as saying that the air-launched version of BrahMos, and its launchers are ready, and have been cleared for flight after simulation tests.
Pillai said,"Work is now underway in the Hindustan Aeronautics facility at Nasik to strengthen the Sukhoi fuselage to ensure the fighter can carry the heavy missile.
”After integration, we plan to test the missile from the fighter in December."
Around 42 Sukhois fighters have been earmarked for structural and software modifications by IAF to carry the air-launched BrahMos missiles.
An unnamed official was quoted by the news agency as saying that the launcher, which weighs around 300kg to 350kg, is expected to be fitted on the aircraft’s belly.
”It will take another three months to perfect the Sukhoi’s software and mission computer for the BrahMos missiles,” said an official.
The IAF has reportedly placed Rs65.16bn ($1.05bn) contract for the air-launched BrahMos missile, but Pillai declined to confirm the same.
Developed by Brahmos Aerospace, a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia, the BrahMos is a stealth supersonic cruise missile designed for launch from land, ship, submarines and air platforms.
The solid propellant rocket powered missile travels at a speed of Mach 2.8 and is capable of intercepting surface targets by flying as low as 10m above the ground, even in mountainous terrain and hillocks.
Approximately three BrahMos Block-II missile regiments have been inducted by the Indian Army, while the Navy has so far installed the missiles on six warships, including the latest stealth frigates, according to the news agency.
Image: The testing of the BrahMos missile from IAF’s Su-30 MKI fighter is expected to take place in December 2014. Photo: courtesy of g4sp.