A year of highs for Brahmos Aerospace

Prasun K. Sengupta

BrahMos Aerospace, the India-Russia joint venture company created in February 1998 for developing a multirole, supersonic cruise missile capable of being launched from warships, sub-marines, ground-based launchers, combat aircraft and maritime patrol/ASW aircraft achieved significant developmental milestones over the past 12 months.

BrahMos Aerospace has created a consortium of Indian and Russian companies to pool in their collective know-how to fabricate numerous components and sub-systems for the missile system. These include 20 Indian private and public sector companies, such as Larsen & Toubro and state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. While the Indian firms are providing the missile’s airframe, launch tubes, wheeled transporter/erector/launcher vehicle, wheeled mission command/control post digitized navigation and flight control systems fire-control system and mission software, Russian companies like NPO Mashinostroyenia and GRANIT Central Scientific Research Institute are providing the liquid-fuel ramjet engine, and the active radar seeker for the missile’s antiship variant. All these components and sub-systems are finally installed and integrated at the BrahMos Integration Complex (BIC) at Hyderabad.

Secondly, the first production version of the land-based BrahMos anti-ship cruise missile was successfully test-fired on June 13 last year from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Orissa. This was followed by the first launch of the surface-to-surface variant of BrahMos on December 22 last year at the Pokhran test range in Rajasthan. This was witnessed by the present Chief of the Army Staff, General Joginder Jaswant Singh. The Indian Army has since shown keen interest to work out modalities of the induction process of this variant of the BrahMos. Commenting on these two successful launches, the Indian Chief of the Naval Staff and Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Admiral Arun Prakash, has said: “The BrahMos technology is mature. We are at the last stage of proving its capabilities. We will retrofit it on all Indian Navy warships that can vary the missile”.

Thirdly, BrahMos Aerospace received the required financial allocation from Indian’s Ministry of Defence late last year to begin R&D work on developing an air launched variant of the missile. The air-launched BrahMos will weigh less than 2.5 tonnes, incorporate a smaller rocket booster, and have additional control fins for stability during launch. The missile will be carried by the centreline, underbelly weapons pylon of the maritime strike variant of the Su-30MKI multi-role combat aircraft. In the words of Dr. A Sivathanu Pillai, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of BrahMos Aerospace, firing trials of the air-launched version of BrahMos could begin by 2007. Ultimately, the su30MKI’s airframe will be strengthened to take three BrahMos missiles, including two under the wings.

R&D efforts are also underway now to qualify the BrahMos in a modular, vertically-launched configuration on board platforms like the Amur 1650 diesel-electric sub-marine, the Indian Navy’s five existing Kashin II-class guided-missile destroyers (DDG), and the three Project 15A Bangalore-class DDGs on order. While the Amur 1650 will be able to carry eight BrahMos missiles contained within a vertical launch system (VLS), the Kashin II-class DDGs will have 16 missiles (eight in two quad launchers inclined at 15 degrees in front and eight in VLS modules aft of the DDG). The Project 15A DDGs will have the BrahMos mounted on 16 VLS cells.

Development of both the inclined quad missile launcher and the modular VLS launch concept by BrahMos Aerospace for naval application is likely to significantly boost the missile’s export prospects, since a variety of both existing and projected warships will be able to house such launchers with minimal structural modifications. Thus far, 10 countries from the Middle East and East Asia are believed to have expressed interest in acquiring the BrahMos for both land attack and maritime strike mission.


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