New Delhi: Post the Balakot air strike carried-out by Indian Air Force (IAF) in Pakistan which destroyed Jaish-e-Mohammed’s (JeM) terror facility in Pakistan, IAF has been looking for new options to increase its firepower. As a result, IAF along with DRDO may soon test-fire air-launched version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile soon.

According to a senior official, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is working to equip Sukhoi aircraft to carry and launch BrahMos missiles. Once successful, Su-30 MKIs could easily carry out the long-range strike.

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Hence, in the case of Balakot like situation these lethal missiles can be fired from within the country as it has a high strike range of 290 km.

During Balakot airstrikes, the IAF had used the Spice-2000 bombs launched from a Mirage-2000 fighter aircraft for striking Jaish-e Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Pakistan. With the availability of BrahMos missile developed by DRDO, the IAF would be able to destroy similar targets from at least 150 km inside the Indian territory.

As per the plan, the team is working to make the missiles lighter so that it can be carried in a fighter plane and 40 such Sukhoi jet will be fitted with deadly missiles.

Up until now, only two IAF Su-30 MKI fighters have been converted to fire the new 2.5-tonne supersonic air-to-surface cruise missile. Due to the size and weight of the BrahMos-A, each Su-30 MKI can only carry one missile in a transport launch canister. The world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile was first flight tested in July 2018 over the Bay of Bengal from a Su-30MKI only.

The IAF test fired a BrahMos-A from a Su-30 MKI in November successfully destroying a naval target. The IAF has conducted several tests of the BrahMos-A in 2016 and 2017. Sources said that IAF is keen to fast-track the process.

Modifications in order for the Su-30 MKI to carry and launch the BrahMos-A include reinforcing the aircraft's undercarriage in addition to various mechanical, electrical and software upgrades

What is BrahMos

  • BrahMos missile has a strike range of around 290 km and is world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile, from land, sea and air, completing the tactical cruise missile triad for the country.
  • The missile has two stages---first is solid and the second one is a ramjet liquid propellant.
  • It operates on ‘fire and forget principal’ and is capable of being launched from land, sea, underwater, and air against sea and land targets.
  • It is capable of carrying a warhead of 300 kg (both conventional as well as nuclear) and has a top supersonic speed of Mach 2.8 to 3 (roughly three times speed of sound).
  • The missile is highly versatile and its unmatched speed, precision and power make it the ultimate modern weapon. Developers say that the missile has a strike accuracy rate of 99.99 per cent.
  • BrahMos follows a variety of trajectories like high, high-low, low, surface-skim etc. unlike ballistic missiles which are powered for half the journey times and follow an ellipsoidal trajectory. Moreover, because its trajectory cannot be predicted it is difficult to defend against.
  • With INS Rajput, the first version of BrahMos missile system was inducted into the Navy in 2005. It is now fully operational with two regiments of the Army.