India on Wednesday became the first country in the world to fire a supersonic cruise missile vertically from an underwater platform. The submarine-launched version of BrahMos was successfully test-fired for first time from an underwater platform off the Visakhapatnam coast.
Defence sources said the missile in its full operational configuration was blasted off from a pontoon (replica of a submarine) positioned nearly 30 feet deep in Bay of Bengal and over 50 km from the Andhra Pradesh coast at about 2.10 pm.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director of BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited A Sivathanu Pillai said the missile took off vertically from the submerged platform for its full range of 290 km and hit the target with high accuracy. ‘’It was a history for us as the mission achieved 100 percent success. All mission parameters have been successfully met and it was a copybook launch,’’ he told this paper over phone.
The success however came a week after the unsuccessful trial of country’s first sub-sonic cruise missile Nirbhay, which had veered away from its path and was destroyed midway. A release from the BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited stated that the missile following a pre-defined trajectory emerged from underwater, took a turn towards the designated target meeting all mission objectives.
All the telemetry and tracking stations, including Indian naval ships positioned throughout the flight path, confirmed the pin-point accuracy of the mission.
‘’The missile is fully ready for fitment in P75 (I) of Indian Navy in vertical launch configuration which will make the platform one of the most powerful weapon platform in the world. This new variant of the supersonic cruise missile will add more fire power to the Navy’s underwater weapon delivery capabilities,’’ claimed Pillai.
Jointly developed by India and Russia, the nine-meter long two-stage missile can travel at thrice the speed of sound and carry a conventional warhead weighing upto 300 kg.
The land and naval variants of BrahMos have already proved their mettle in both vertical and inclined launch configurations. The missile has been successfully inducted in a number of front-line Navy warships.
Defence scientists said the missile is capable of being launched from submarine from a depth of 40-50 meters. The submarines equipped with BrahMos would increase the offensive power of the vessel without compromising on its defensive power as the torpedo tubes in it can be utilised for defence, the scientists added.
Defence Minister A K Antony has congratulated the Indian scientists, Russian specialists and members from Navy associated with the project for the successful mission. ‘’It is a wonderful achievement and proud moment for India,’’ he said.