IAF chief calls for developing BrahMos missile variant for smaller warplanes
Currently, only the IAF’s Sukhoi-30MKI fighters are equipped with the air-launched version of the BrahMos, a 2.5-tonne missile that flies at nearly three times the speed of sound.
NEW DELHI: Calling the BrahMos cruise missile the country’s most lethal combat asset, Indian Air Force Chief on Wednesday called for more combat squadrons with these BrahMos-modified aircraft.
“What we are looking at is the next-generation BrahMos or its smaller version that can be fitted to the smaller platforms like MiG-29, Mirage 2000, or even the LCA. This is an area where we need to really focus,” said Air Chief VR Chaudhari during the ‘BrahMos User Meet’ in Delhi on Wednesday.
BrahMos has been produced jointly by India and Russia since 1998. “We need to develop a smaller weapon with the same reach and lethality. This could be taken as one of the challenges,” said the IAF Chief. He said as the situation unfolded on the northern borders three years ago, we realised that a potent weapon can be used very effectively for land attacks. “We, therefore, equipped more squadrons with these BrahMos-modified aircraft. Today, we have BrahMos-modified aircraft in almost all squadrons across the IAF,” Chaudhari said.
Army Chief General Manoj Pande said the missile has enabled the armed forces in multiple ways. “Due to our legacy issues of unsettled borders and related security challenges, the possession of strategic deterrence instruments in our case is essential. The three Services are the users of the BrahMos missile system. The missiles now stand enabled to not just act as deterrence but also respond robustly when required.” said the Army Chief.
“As one of our most lethal air-combat assets, the BrahMos supersonic missile has really galvanized the way we will equip ourselves with precision firepower in the coming years. Seeing the conflicts that are happening across the globe, the importance of precision and long-range firepower can’t be underestimated,” said the Air Chief. “The combination of BrahMos on the Sukhoi Su-30 has really given us tremendous capability,” he said.
The IAF is expected to be armed with the BrahMos NG (next generation) versatile supersonic cruise missile system by 2025. The NG will be lighter in weight and smaller in size, allowing the aerial platforms to carry more of them. The NG will weigh around 1,330 kg with a length of around six metres. The current version of BrahMos weighs 2,650 kg of weight with a length of around 9 metres. The extended range capability of the missile coupled with the high performance of the Su-30MKI gives the IAF strategic reach. The missile system was successfully married with the aircraft in May this year.
The range of the missile is 290 km, with a speed of 2.8 mach (almost thrice the speed of sound), till the time India was not part of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). India became an MTCR member in 2016 and extended its range to 450 km.