On 8th November 2021, India successfully test-fired the air-launched version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from a Su-30MKI fighter jet, clearing it for serial production.
Despite the high cost, the “BrahMos” supersonic cruise missile is constantly being equipped with the Indian armed forces. This heavy-duty supersonic cruise missile with a maximum speed of Mach 2.5 can be used not only to attack surface targets but also to attack ground targets. The accuracy of the “BrahMos” supersonic cruise missile is 1m CEP.
Recently, the Su-30MKI multi-role fighter of the Indian Air Force once again tested an air-launched “BrahMos” supersonic cruise missile. The video was released by the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). It was carried out at the Chandipur Comprehensive Proving Ground on the coast of Odisha State. It is worth noting that the Indian Defense Development Organization (DRDO) stated that this test has cleared the way for the mass production of the air-launched BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. It is expected that it will be put into mass production soon. Then equip the Indian Air Force.
The air version of BrahMos was last flight tested in July, 2021. The 2.5-tonne air launched missile has a range of 300 km and a maximum speed of 2.8 mach.
On November 22, 2017, Brahmos was successfully flight-tested for the first time from the IAF’s frontline fighter aircraft Sukhoi-30MKI against a sea-based target in the Bay of Bengal and has since been successfully tested multiple times. BrahMos equipped Sukhoi-30s — which have a range of 1500 kilometers at a stretch without mid-air refueling — are considered as key strategic deterrence for the adversaries both along the land borders and in the strategically important Indian Ocean Region.
The information disclosed by Russia shows that the Indian Air Force intends to purchase dozens of Su-30MKI fighters from Russia. Considering that HAL has been assembling Su-30MKI fighter jets in India, analysts believe that the new batch of Su-30MKI fighter jets purchased by the Indian Air Force is likely to adopt some improved models of Su-35 and Su-57 technology. Russia has been trying to obtain a contract to upgrade the Su-30MKI fighter jet for the Indian Air Force. In addition to replacing it with more advanced engines, the focus is to upgrade its avionics and weapon systems. Recently the Indian Air Force has shown dissatisfaction with the weapon system and engine.
Although the current “BrahMos” cruise missile (Ship/surface platform) has a speed of more than Mach 4, its maximum range is 300 kilometers. The Defense Development Organization (DRDO) of India is developing its development model and intends to expand its range to 800 kilometers first. It will continue to expand to 1,500 kilometers or even more, and it is likely to introduce hypersonic technology, and eventually develop a hypersonic version of the “BrahMos” missile. In this case, the “BrahMos” range and penetration capabilities will be greatly improved, becoming more threatening.
Now, the “BrahMos” warhead is only more than 200 kilograms. According to the plan of the Indian army, the “BrahMos” cruise missile is mainly used to attack those important targets with tight protection, such as command posts and communication centers, while the ballistic missiles are used to deal with the area targets such as military assembly areas. And more importantly, the “BrahMos” cruise missile is likely to be converted into a nuclear missile, and a nuclear warhead is installed for it. Su-30MKI fighter jets carrying this “BrahMos” nuclear missile will replace Indian Air Force’s “Jaguar” attack aircraft.
The modified “Jaguar” attack aircraft is currently the only aircraft with nuclear strike capability of the Indian Air Force, but it can only throw nuclear bombs and has limited penetration capabilities. In contrast, the The -30MKI fighter is different. Its strike range and penetration capability are by no means comparable to the Jaguar.
In January 2020, the IAF commissioned the 222 “Tiger Sharks” squadron consisting of modified Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighter jets in Thanjavur armed with the missiles. This significantly enhances the offensive strike range of the armed forces.
40 IAF SU-30MKI are to undergo modifications to be equipped to carry the missile. According to the CEO of BrahMos Aerospace, Sudhir Kumar Mishra, Brahmos-A when fired from Su-30 aircraft can reach targets thousands of kilometres away. On 20 January 2020, the IAF commissioned its first squadron of Su-30MKI fighters equipped with BrahMos-A missile.