BrahMos on Sukhoi-30 MKI successfully test-fired! The 290-km range supersonic cruise missile, capable of carrying 300 kg warhead, was successfully tested against a sea-based target in the Bay of Bengal today. Apart from being a first for the world, what makes the achievement even more formidable and lethal is the fact that in the future a 450-km version and an 800-km version of BrahMos can also be integrated on the Sukhoi-30 MKI! Technically it is possible, defence sources tell FE Online. The integration for the 290-km version of the BrahMos missile has been successful, so doing something similar for the higher-range versions is quite possible, defence sources added.
India became a member of the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) in 2016. The entry meant that member countries could share technologies with India that would allow for missiles with range greater than 300 km to be made. This enabled the Indo-Russia joint venture, BrahMos Aerospace, to extend the range of BrahMos missile to 450-km. In March this year, a land-based version of the BrahMos was successfully tested. An 800-km range version is under development and is expected to be ready in two years time. Defence experts are of the view that integrating the higher-range versions of the missile onto fighter jets like the Sukhoi is possible in the future.
Says Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur VM (Retd) and a Distinguished Fellow, CAPS, “With BrahMos integrated on the Sukhoi-30 MKI, I can tell you that India’s adversaries will be burning the midnight oil to think of defences. The 290-km range means that Indian Air Force does not need to cross the border to strike deep into the enemy’s territory and destroy strategic assets. This also gives effective and lethal strike capability on the Tibetan plateau”. “And, it’s not just about strike power against warships – though the trials were held over sea (for safety reasons) – the BrahMos air-version can easily take out land-based targets as well. So our adversaries will certainly have to move their strategic assets underground or relocate them. And in the future, with MTCR membership in place, the higher range BrahMos may also be integrated on the fighter jets,” he tells FE Online.
A former DRDO missile scientist, who does not wish to be named, believes that a 450-km BrahMos and an 800-km BrahMos can “definitely” be integrated on the Sukhoi-30 MKI. “From a missile’s perspective, if the range is already being altered then some changes technically and in the engine should make it possible to integrate on the fighter jet,” he tells FE Online. Asked about what that means for India’s strike capabilities, he elaborates, “An 800-km range means the whole of Pakistan is covered, so that would be a huge deterrent. From China’s perspective, northern part is covered and some strategic assets and communications lines and runways can be destroyed.”
Defence Minister Nirmala Sithraman has called today’s trial the “completion of tactical cruise missile triad”. According to her, BrahMos on the Sukhoi-30 MKI will “significantly bolster the IAF’s capabilities in long-range air combat operations”. BrahMos has already been inducted by the Indian Navy and the Indian Army. The missile is unique for its multi-platform nature – it can fired from a ship, submarine, land – and now a frontline fighter jet!