December 28, 2012
The much-awaited test launch of the air version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile has been further delayed and now India hopes to undertake the drop trials by December 2013 .
India had planned to conduct the test launch by December 2012. The development of the missile is already over three years behind schedule.
“Various tests for fitting the air variant of Brahmos onto the Sukhoi aircraft of Indian Air Force (IAF) are being undertaken and the entire work is expected to be completed [only] by the end of 2013, when we will be ready to launch the supersonic missile for the first time from air,” says a senior defense ministry source.
The initial test firing of the air-launched missile, being developed in cooperation with a Russian agency is likely to be undertaken from the Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft.
“Since it has to go for a fitness test on Sukoi-30, it would take time to conduct such trials and the new version would be launched within a year,” Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne told reporters earlier this month.
According to the source, the air variant BrahMos has to weighs half a ton less than regular missiles.
The air variant will feature just one booster instead of two to accelerate the missile to its supersonic cruise speed, when a ramjet engine takes over. Also, a new take-off engine for launching the missile on air and at extreme high altitudes is being developed.
Moreover, the Super 30 variant of the Su-30 is being developed to help launch the BrahMos missile from an underbelly pylon.
India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is making the necessary modifications to strengthen the undercarriage of the Sukhoi to enable the aircraft to take-off and land with the missile, the source says.