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India to develop new long-range variant of BRAHMOS missile

The BrahMos Aerospace company will develop a new variant of the BRAHMOS missile with a range of up to 800 km, according to the Hindustan Times newspaper.

India to develop new long range variant of BRAHMOS missile 1BrahMos missile launched from Indian Navy Destroyer INS Chennai during TROPEX 17. Indian Navy pictures.

"India is laying the groundwork to test a high-range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, capable of striking targets more than 800 km away," the daily says, citing unnamed sources. The newspaper adds that the missile might be tested before the year-end.

It is noteworthy that the Indian defense industry is enhancing the capabilities of the BRAHMOS missile. According to the official catalogue of the BrahMos Aerospace company, the original variant has a firing range of up to 290 km in accordance with the stipulations placed by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) that limits the range of export-oriented missile weapons to less than 300 km. In June 2016, New Delhi joined MTCR and obtained the right to develop and produce modifications of the BRAHMOS with longer ranges.

In February 2017, S. Cristopher, Director of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DROD) told Indian media that the range of the BRAHMOS missile would be extended to 450 km and then to 800 km. The variants of the extended range BRAHMOS variants would be available for ground-, sea- and air-based platforms, he added. The official pointed out that the modification of the missile with a range of 800 km would be developed within next two years. However, the development schedule seems to have been shrunk. As a result, in March 2017, India successfully tested the BRAHMOS-ER (Extended Range) missile that had a range of 400 km. According to the Hindustan Times newspaper, the missile is now being reconfigured in order to achieve the goal, namely, to increase its range to 800 km.

The modernization of the BRAHMOS missile to 800 km will beef up the capabilities of the Indian military in a drastic manner. "It [the new variant of the BRAHMOS] will be a significant leap forward for the BrahMos project. [The Indian] Air Force fighters will be able to attack targets from increased standoff ranges," an Indian official told the Hindustan Times daily.

India to develop new long range variant of BRAHMOS missile 2 BrahMos NG scale model as shown at India's Defexpo 2016 exhibition

BrahMos Aerospace also pays a special attention to the development of the air-launched variant of the BRAHMOS designated BRAHMOS-A. The BRAHMOS-A is an air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) intended for Sukhoi Su-30MKI (NATO reporting name: Flanker-H) fighter jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF). A Su-30MKI of the IAF successfully test-fired the ALCM in November 2017. "The successful maiden test-firing of the BRAHMOS ALCM from the Su-30MKI will significantly bolster the IAF's air combat operations capability from stand-off ranges," India's Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in a statement.

It should be mentioned that the Indian military has revealed an intention to develop a lightened variant of the BRAHMOS-A ALCM designated BRAHMOS-NG (New Generation). According to the Hindustan Times newspaper, the BRAHMOS-NG is currently at the design stage, and initial consultations have already been held. The new ALCM will be integrated with the indigenous Tejas LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) air platform. The BRAHMOS-NG is planned to be developed by 2019.

The IAF is reported to have placed orders worth approximately USD650 million for the BRAHMOS-A. The service expects to get a total of approximately 40 Su-30MKI multirole fighter jets modified for the ALCM. Each aircraft will be able to carry a single BRAHMOS-A missile.

The Hindustan Times says that the Indian military is planning to get a variant of the BRAHMOS-A ALCM with a range of up to 800 km. "The Sukhoi has a range of 3,600 km. Arming it with an 800 km range missile will increase its reach tremendously, and even more, considering the option of midair refueling," an unnamed Indian official told the daily.

It should be mentioned that the Indian military is now operating land-based and sea-based variants of the BRAHMOS. All brand new and upgraded ships of the Indian Navy are planned to get the missile.

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