The Indian Air Force (IAF) will receive an air-launched version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile by 2016.
BrahMos Aerospace president Sudhir Kumar Mishra was quoted by Itar-Tass News Agency as saying: "The missile development is going on schedule.
"Its launch from the Su-30MKI fighter will be carried out by the year end, and the deliveries will start in 2016."
Mishra told Russia and India Report that state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) and Russia’s Sukhoi Design Bureau are working with IAF to ensure that the missile flight test is undertaken as per schedule.
Called BrahMos-A, the new air-launched variant will use air breathing scramjet propulsion technology aboard IAF Su-30MKI fighters to help enhance their conventional offensive capabilities.
In October 2012, the Indian Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) cleared a Rs60bn ($1.1bn) proposal for the acquisition of 200 BrahMos air-launched variants by IAF.
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The air force has to date earmarked nearly 42 Su-30MKI jets for structural and software modifications to carry the air-launched missiles.
Developed by Brahmos Aerospace, a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia, 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 can intercept surface targets by flying as low as 10m above the ground, even in mountainous terrain and hillocks.
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.
Mishra said that there are plans to sign an agreement with Russia for development of a smaller version of the BrahMos, called BrahMos-M, before the end of this year.
The missile is expected to be developed over the next three years, and would be used by all the three services of the Indian military.
Image: The BrahMos missile will be integrated with Indian Air Force’s Su-30MKI fighter aircraft. Photo: courtesy of G4sp.