The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, jointly developed by India and Russia and which can travel at speeds of 2.5 to 2.8 mach, is likely to be inducted in the Indian Air Force (IAF) by 2013, a top official said on Wednesday.
The IAF version of the precision-attack low-flying missile would be completing its air-to-ground tests by 2012.
"We expect it to be inducted in IAF by 2013," CEO and Managing Director of BrahMos Aerospace Limited (BAL) A. Sivathanu Pillai told reporters on the margins of the second international space exhibition and conference here.
BrahMos, which has already been inducted in the Indian Army and the Indian Navy, can carry a payload of 200 to 300 kg of explosives.
The Sukhoi SU-30MKI combat jet has been chosen as the aircraft to be fitted with the BrahMos. The aircraft is being modified for the purpose.
"The aircraft has to undergo certain modifications," Pillai said.
The Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is building the modified version of the Russian-made aircraft for reducing its weight and giving it additional propulsion.
A prototype of the aircraft is also being built and tested in Russia.
The BrahMos is capable of attacking from land-to-ship, ship-to-land and ship-to ship, Pillai said.
The IAF version will have the capacity of attacking large targets from air to ground.
The missile, being developed by BAL, a joint venture between India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia's NPO Mashinostroeyenia, costs around Rs 1,500 crore.
The BrahMos will also be tested for its underwater performance, Pillai said.
"We are even looking into the aspect of fitting it on the submarines to attack ships and underwater elements (submarines). The technology is ready but the platform for testing has to be built," he said.
The BrahMos missile has evoked interest in several countries. Many want to buy it but they may have to wait till India completes its induction into its defence forces.
"The export market will have to wait till India inducts the missile in the armed forces. Next is the turn of the Russian military," Pillai added.
The India-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission for Military Technical Cooperation has approved the idea of catering to the export market.
The JV has also plans to build a hyper-sonic cruise missile that travels five times faster than a sound wave, Pillai said, adding the the technology is yet to be developed.