Will India sell BrahMos air launched version to foreign countries?

In early 2020 India inducted the Su-30MKI equipped with BrahMos supersonic cruise missile onto the 222 ‘Tigersharks’ fighter squadron at the Thanjavur air base. So will India transfer this technology and weapons abroad?

Total 40 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) Su-30MKI fighters will be armed with BrahMos cruise missiles and all the special variant aircraft will be dellivered by next two years , said Alexander Maksichev, co-director of the Russian-Indian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace. While Brahmos NG cruise missile equipped Tejas and Rafale join later, currently under development.

LCA Tejas with Brahmos NG
LCA Tejas with Brahmos NG

The IAF previously signed a contract for air-launched cruise missiles in early January 2018. This variant of the BrahMos missile , considered the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile, is designed to arm about 40 Su-30MKI fighters.

The Su-30MKI is a multirole fighter aircraft, jointly developed by Russia’s Sukhoi Design Bureau and India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). In 1996 the Indian Ministry of Defense signed the first contract with the Russian state intermediary Rosvooruzhenie to deliver Su-30MKI aircraft to the IAF. Deliveries are expected in the years 2002-2004. In 2000, another contract was signed, for the transfer of licensed Su-30MKI production technology at the facilities of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

Brahmos air launched version
Brahmos air launched version

Su-30MKI has an optimized aerodynamic design, the body is made of titanium and high-strength aluminum alloy. A two-pilot cockpit and equipped with integrated avionics, including the pilot’s helmet display (HUD), made by Israel’s Elbit; seven phantom liquid crystal displays (AMLCDs), which have replaced all old-fashioned clocks.

The Su-30 uses a fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control system. The rear weapons pilot work as weapon specialist to control weapons,the fighter equipped with a large monochrome screen in the cabin while The main pilot focus on controlling the aircraft.

The aircraft uses N011M passive electronically scanned array radar, OLS-30 laser optical positioning system and target designation device, to guide the guided weapon, especially laser-guided weapons.

The Su-30MKI can use R-27R, R-73 and R-77 air-to-air missiles manufactured by Vympel (Russia), and ground attack weapons such as KAB-500 and laser-guided bombs. KAB-1500. The Su-30MKI uses two AI-31FP turbofan engines, each capable of generating 12,500kgf of total thrust.

In November 2017, the IAF has modified two Su-30MKI fighters to launch BrahMos cruise missiles from the air and have been successful and it was induct in january 202.  The BrahMos cruise missile was developed by BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture between India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Russia’s Mashinostroeyenia. The missile is named after two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moscow of Russia.

IAF Su-30MKI during Brahmos A trials
IAF Su-30MKI during Brahmos A trials

On March 12, 2018, India successfully test-fired a version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from a submarine in the Bay of Bengal. The missile successfully destroyed the target at a distance of 290 km, making India the first country in the world to have this capability.

In the context of increasing border tension with China since June last year, the Indian armed forces conducted a series of successful tests of BrahMos missiles; both to test the missile’s combat ability and have a “deterrent” nature.

Military experts assess that the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force, conducting continuous BrahMos tests, is a sign of the integration of BrahMos launchers on land, in the air and in the air. sea, to work together to improve common deterrence.

In early 2020, the Su-30MKI is equipped with the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile, which was introduced by the IAF at Thanjavur Air Base. The presence of the Su-30MKI is considered important for the protection of territories, islands and sea lines of communication in the Indian Ocean region.

The integration of the air-launched version of BrahMos was done by BrahMos Aerospace, HAL and the IAF. In 2018, the Indian Ministry of Defense signed an agreement with BrahMos Aerospace, for the re-equipment of 40 Su-30MKI aircraft, capable of launching BrahMos missiles.

The number of IAF Su-30MKIs converted to carry BrahMos missiles will be completed in the next 2-3 years; At the same time, this number of Su-30MKI will also be modernized according to the IAF’s plan.

BrahMos NG
BrahMos NG

The new missiles will significantly enhance the IAF’s strategic ability to eliminate long-range targets in the Indian Ocean. In addition, the technique of launching BrahMos from the air, completely normal use in areas with high terrain such as the China-India border area.

India also actively working on a new varianrt of Brahmos missile Brahmos NG. BrahMos-NG (Next Generation) is a mini version based on the existing BrahMos, will have same 290 km range and mach 3.5 speed but it will weigh around 1.5 tons, 5 metres in length and 50 cm in diameter, making BrahMos-NG 50 percent lighter and three metres shorter than its predecessor. The system is expected to be inducted in the year 2024. BrahMos-NG will have lesser RCS (radar cross section) compared to its predecessor, making it harder for air defense systems to locate and engage the target. BrahMos-NG will have Land, Air, ship-borne and Submarine tube-launched variants. The first test flight is expected to take place in 2022–24. Initially Brahmos-NG was referred to as Brahmos-M.  Additionally, the BrahMos-NG will have an AESA radar rather than the mechanically scanned one on the PJ-10.

Size comparison between BrahMos and Brahmos-NG.
Size comparison between BrahMos and Brahmos-NG.

The missile will arm the Sukhoi Su-30MKI, Mikoyan MiG-29K, HAL Tejas and future inductions such as the Dassault Rafale, and HAL MWF. Submarine launched variant will be capable of being fired from the new P75I class of submarines. A model of the new variant was showcased on 20 February 2013, at the 15th anniversary celebrations of BrahMos Corporations. The Sukhoi SU-30MKI would carry three missiles while other combat aircraft would carry one each. Missile is likely to be ready in late 2022.

Few days back Greece media repoted that Greece interest in the Indian Brahmos cruise missile to equip its latest Rafale F3 fighter aircraft. According to Greek media, Athens and Delhi have two common enemies, Turkey and Pakistan. That is why Indian and Greece need to work together in the field of information exchange and in the field of defense. India is producing weapons systems that could change the course of things.

While earlier in 2020 government of Brazil expressed interest in the BrahMos-NG (New Generation) version of the short-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile. According to brazilian media “The Brazilian aircraft Embraer can also be a suitable platform for BrahMos –NG. Except these Brazil countries in South America including, Chile, Argentina and Venezuela are also interested on Brahmos missile.

Currently, India is actively offering to sell BrahMos missiles to other countries, especially Southeast Asian countries; The Philippines is the first customer of this type of missile. Most likely, India will transfer BrahMos technology and missiles to countries that own Su-30, of which Vietnam is a potential customer.

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