The Indian Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has cleared an Rs60bn ($1.1bn) proposal for the acquisition of 200 air-launched variants of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.
An unidentified defence source was quoted by Times of India as saying that the missiles will be installed aboard the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) fleet of next-generation Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter aircraft.
"The missile’s drop trials from the Sukhois should begin in December-January, after which the full-fledged trials will be launched," the source added.
Under the plans, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will modify and integrate the air force’s two Su-30MKI jets with aerial BrahMos launchers at its facility in Nasik, Bangalore, India, the source said.
The air force has long requested the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the integration of BrahMos air-launched variants, which will use air breathing scramjet propulsion technology aboard Su-30MKI fighter jets in an effort to help enhance its conventional offensive capabilities.
Developed by Brahmos Aerospace, a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russian 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.
BrahMos ground and ship-launched variants have been successfully inducted into service with the Indian Army and Navy, while a hypersonic version of the missile is expected to be ready for evaluations by 2017.
The CCS has also approved the Indian Army’s separate Rs34.65bn ($0.65bn) project for procurement and licensed production of a total of 25,000 3UBK-Invar anti-tank missiles from Russia.
Image: The air launched version of BrahMos missile being displayed during MAKS 2009 Air Show. Photo: courtesy of Allocer.