India tests missile with target range of 400km
The test has cleared the decks for India to induct a second class of supersonic, long-range tactical cruise missiles, propelled by a liquid-fuelled booster capable of hitting targets over 500km away .
India on Wednesday test-fired an extended-range BrahMos surface-to-surface supersonic cruise missile that can hit targets 400km away, amid military tensions with China in the Ladakh sector, officials familiar with the development said. The range has been increased from the existing 290km. The extended-range variant was tested from the Integrated Test Range at Balasore in Odisha.
The test has cleared the decks for India to induct a second class of supersonic, long-range tactical cruise missiles, propelled by a liquid-fuelled booster capable of hitting targets over 500km away . “The missile featuring an indigenous booster and air-frame section along with many other ‘Made in India’ sub-systems was successfully flight tested for designated range at 1030 hours on Wednesday…It is one more major step in enhancing the indigenous content,” the defence ministry said. The missile was tested for the second time.
The missile cruised at a top speed of Mach 2.8 (nearly three times the speed of sound). The configuration of the existing missile -- the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile -- has been tweaked to enhance its range, the officials said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday congratulated scientists for the successful launch, saying the country has achieved “yet another milestone”.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh also congratulated the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and BrahMos Aerospace for the successful flight testing. “This achievement will give a big boost to India’s #AtmaNirbharBharat Pledge,” he tweeted.
According to experts, the next class of Indian cruise missiles will be based on solid-fuelled ducted ramjet (SFDR) technology, which can be used for air-to-air missiles as well as long-range supersonic cruise missiles. The technology has been tested by the DRDO twice -- on May 30,2018, and February 8, 2019.
The significance of the BrahMos test from a mobile launcher was that the cruise missile reached 75% indigenisation with India now having the capability to design the airframe as well as an indigenous liquid-fuelled booster. BrahMos missiles are already deployed in the Ladakh theatre along with a limited number of 1,000km range Nirbhay subsonic cruise missiles to counter the missiles and rockets deployed by the Chinese army in Tibet and Xinjiang. The two armies are locked in a tense standoff in the Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
“The new class of cruise missile will have a solid rocket booster along with supersonic speed using SFDR technology. The range of the missile can be decided on the basis of mission objectives,” said an Indian missile expert, requesting anonymity.
The Nirbhay will be formally inducted into the army and the navy after the seventh trial next month. The solid rocket booster missile has a single shot kill ratio of more than 90%. According to experts, the Nirbhay subsonic missile has been cleared for induction by the Defence Acquisition Council. The missile travels at a speed of 0.7 Mach and has both terrain-hugging and sea-skimming capability to avoid detection and counter-measures.
Wednesday’s successful launch has paved the way for the serial production of the indigenous booster and other indigenous components of the powerful weapon system, the defence ministry said in a statement. The missile, which has land, air and naval variants, is an Indo-Russian joint venture. India is also working on a hypersonic missile, BrahMos-II (K), capable of taking out hardened targets such as underground bunkers and weapon storage facilities at seven times the speed of sound (Mach 7) or 8,575 kmph.