Indian Air Force Test Fires BrahMos Air-Launched Cruise Missile from Su-30MKI Fighter Aircraft

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has successfully test-fired the air-launched version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from its frontline Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft today, Dec. 17.

The test conducted in user configuration revalidated the ship attack capability of the advanced air-launched cruise missile. 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 propelled towards the intended target positioned at the sea, piercing it with pinpoint accuracy.

The firing was successfully undertaken with support from the Indian Navy, according to a statement from the Ministry of Defence.

This is the second test-launch of a BrahMos missile today, as earlier in the day, a surface-launched variant of the missile, equipped with an advanced indigenous seeker, was fired from a land-based mobile launcher positioned at the Launch Complex III of the Chandipur Integrated Test Range (ITR).

The air-launched BrahMos missile, designated BrahMos-A, is a supersonic air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) with a range of around 300 km. Weighing 2.5 tons, Brahmos ALCM is the heaviest weapon ever to be deployed on India’s Su-30MKI fighter aircraft. A Su-30MKI is able to carry only one BrahMos-A missile. This new Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) will significantly bolster the IAF’s air combat operations capability from stand-off ranges.

The IAF became the first Air Force in the world to have successfully fired an air-launched 2.8 Mach surface attack missile of this category on a sea target on Nov. 22, 2017. This was followed by a second live launch over a land target on May 22 this year. Today’s test was the third live launch of the weapon.

With this third launch, the integration of the missile on Su-30MKI aircraft is complete, according to the MoD statement.

The BrahMos-A missile is the air-launched version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile designed and developed by BrahMos Aerospace Pvt. Ltd.(BAPL), a joint venture between the Russian Federation’s NPO Mashinostroeyenia and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The name BrahMos is a portmanteau formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.

The BrahMos missile based on the Russian P-800 Oniks cruise missile and other similar sea-skimming Russian cruise missile technology. There are variants of the missile that can be launched from submarine, ships, aircraft, or land-based launchers in both land attack (LACM) and anti-ship (AShM) role. It is tagged as the world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile in operation with a speed of Mach 2.8 to 3.0.

To reduce the air-launched version’s weight to 2.55 tons, many modifications were made like using a smaller booster, adding fins for airborne stability after launch, and relocating the connector.

The ALCM can be released from the height of 500 to 14,000 meters (1,640 to 46,000 ft). After release, the missile free falls for 100–150 meters, then goes into a cruise phase at 14,000 meters and finally the terminal phase at 15 meters.

A BrahMos air-launched supersonic cruise missile being dropped from an Indian Air Force (IAF) Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft during the test launch conducted on May 22, 2019.

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