New Delhi/Bengaluru: While efforts are underway to extend the range of the land-based BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, test-firing of the air-launched version from fighter aircraft is due in the next few months, a top official has said.
"We have carried out drop tests of the missile from the Sukhoi-30 fighter and analysed the data obtained from those tests. The most crucial phase of the programme is the live test-firing of the weapon which we plan to conduct over the next 3-4 months," Sudhir Kumar Mishra, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of BrahMos Aerospace, an Indo-Russian joint venture, told IANS in an interview.
Sources say that the firing of the real supersonic missile from fighter jet may happen in April. This will allow Indian forces to conduct surgical strikes and destroy targets that are 300 km away.
"We plan to conduct two test-firings -- one against a land target and another against a sea-based target," Mishra said.
"Once we successfully complete the two live test-firings, it would be ready for induction in the IAF (Indian Air Force)," he added.
On deployment, the IAF will be able to hit targets deep inside enemy territory from stand-off ranges, especially if the targets are well-protected by air defence batteries.
On June 25 last year, a Sukhoi SU-30MKI staged a flyby at the Nashik facility of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited with a BrahMos missile attached to hardpoints between its undercarriage flaps.
Mishra hoped that both tests of the air-launched version will be over by the end of this year.
The range of the BrahMos missile will be increased to 450 km and a test is likely around March 10, DRDO Chief S. Christopher said in Bengaluru on Wednesday.
He said a change in the software will be needed, after which the missile will be tested for an enhanced range of 450 km.
"We will tentatively test it around March 10," he said.
Besides this, the DRDO is also developing a second version of the BrahMos missile which will have a range of 800 km.
This missile, Christopher said, is likely to be developed over the next two-and-a-half years.
The Indian Army has already inducted three regiments of BrahMos in its arsenal. All are equipped with Block-III version of the missile, which was tested last May.
The land-attack version of BrahMos has been operationalised in the Indian Army since 2007.
The fire-and-forget BrahMos has the capability to take on surface-based targets by flying a combined hi-lo trajectory, thus evading enemy air defence systems.
Inclusion of the powerful weapon system in the Indian Army has given it a distinct operational advantage to knock down any enemy target even in the most difficult and hidden terrain.
The BrahMos missile, with a range of 290 km and a Mach 2.8 speed, is capable of being launched from land, sea and sub-sea against sea and land targets.
BrahMos is a joint venture between DRDO of India and NPOM of Russia.