PJ-10 BrahMos ALCM
India has for the first time on 22 November 2017 fired a BrahMos missile from a Sukhoi Su-30 plane, with the country’s Defense Ministry claiming the air-launch a success. The missile’s developer said it “can be a game changer for any air force in the world.” “The successful maiden test firing of [a] BrahMos air launched cruise missile (ALCM) from [a] Su-30MKI will significantly bolster the IAF’s air combat operations capability from stand-off ranges,” the Indian Defense Ministry said in a statement. A modified Su-30 fighter jet took off from Kalaikunda Airbase in West Bengal state and hit a decommissioned boat in the Bay of Bengal.
Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman congratulated the military and the missile developers at BrahMos Aerospace, calling it “an outstanding achievement.” Missile test-firings from planes are considered a risky affair, with dozens of aircraft destroyed around the globe during such trials. The test signaled that the BrahMos missile is now ready for induction into the Indian Air Force, a high-ranked government official told the Hindustan Times. India plans to equip at least two Su-30 squadrons – consisting of 18 planes – with the cruise missiles, according to the paper.
The BrahMos missile is a joint Indian-Russian project, and named after the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers in the two countries. The supersonic cruise missile is the fastest in the world in its class currently in operation, being able to reach a speed of Mach 3.0, three times the speed of sound. It has a range of 290 kilometers and weighs 2.5 tons, and is the heaviest piece of ammunition ever carried by a Su-30. A missile like BrahMos “can be a game changer for any air force in the world,” Sudhir Mishra, BrahMos Aerospace CEO said. India already has the BrahMos missile land and naval version in service, with the successful aerial launch completing India’s tactical cruise missile triad, the Defense Ministry said.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that in the future, the Su-30MKI could carry not a single BrahMos missile, but three smaller missiles of the same class. India is also planning to deploy an upgraded BrahMos missile, with an extended range of 450 kilometers.
The test-launch on 17 December 2019 of the BrahMos-A, an air-launched version of the supersonic Russian-Indian cruise missile, meant the weapon system’s integration with the Sukhoi Su-30MKI platform is complete, the IAF said. The air launch was part of a two-stage BrahMos test conducted by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in conjunction with the country’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), which tested a land-based version of the projectile. The BrahMos-A was fired from a Sukhoi-30MKI off the coast of Odisha and scored a direct hit on a target in the sea.
“During the test, the missile was gravity dropped from the air combat platform’s fuselage and the two-stage weapon’s engine fired up and the missile straightaway propelled towards the intended target positioned at the sea, piercing it with pinpoint accuracy,” the IAF said. It was the third test of the BrahMos-A after trials in 2017 and in May of this year, and the last one necessary to consider its integration with the air platform complete. The Indian military is expected to announce the weapon fully operational before the end of this year.
The BrahMos is based on the design of the Russian Onis anti-ship long-range missile. The ground-launched version has been in service in the Indian Army since 2007. The Sukhoi-30MKI, another result of Russian-Indian military cooperation, is the designated launch platform for the massive 2.5-ton projectile in the IAF. So far, two of the aircraft have been converted to use them, but the IAF has plans to have as many as 40 BrahMos-compatible multirole fighter jets in its fleet and a stockpile of 200 missiles to arm them.
A smaller 1.5-ton version of the missile, called the BrahMos-NG, which would be carried by aircraft like the MiG-29K or India’s domestically-developed HAL Tejas, is currently in development.
The Indian Air Force successfully conducted a missile test on 12 May 2022, when one of its Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets, from the Tiger Sharks squadron, took off from the Thanjavur airbase in Tamil Nadu, underwent mid-air refueling and then fired an air-to-ground extended-range BrahMos missile, hitting a designated target in the Bay of Bengal. "It was the first launch of the Extended Range version of BrahMos missile from Su-30MKI aircraft. With this, the IAF has achieved the capability to carry out precision strikes from Su-30MKI aircraft against a land/sea target over very long ranges," said the official statement by India’s Ministry of Defence. "The extended range capability of the missile coupled with the high performance of the Su-30MKI aircraft gives the IAF a strategic reach and allows it to dominate the future battlefields."
The original BrahMos non-nuclear missile has a range of 290 kilometers, can be launched from land, air, and sea, and can travel three times faster than the speed of sound. Meanwhile, the extended-range version of the same BrahMos missile has a range of 450-to-500 kilometers.
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