BrahMos power for submarines now

The Indian-Russian joint venture is ready to test a submarine-launched variant of the supersonic cruise missile, reports Rahul Singh.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2007 18:10 IST

BrahMos Aerospace, an Indian-Russian joint venture, is ready to test a submarine-launched variant of the supersonic cruise missile. Depending on the availability of a submarine, the first tests could be carried out within a year.

BrahMos Aerospace CEO & MD Dr A Sivanthanu Pillai said the plan was to modify a 'Kilo' class submarine for carrying out sub-sea tests sometime between November 2007 and February 2008.

He said the Russians had already deployed the BrahMos in the Amur class of submarines and the design had been proven.

"Some tests are required to show that it can be fired from under water. We have the technology to configure the missile provided a platform (submarine) is available," he said.

The BrahMos, which has a range of 290 kms, has undergone 12 tests so far and has identical configuration for land, sea and sub-sea platforms.

The air-launched version, to be fitted on Su-30 MKI, has a smaller booster and additional tail fins for stability during launch.

Dr A Dergachev Alexander, chairman, Board of Directors, BrahMos, said the development of the air-launched version was in progress and it would be integrated with the aircraft by the end of 2008.

As of now, a Su-30 MKI can carry only one missile due to design limitations. However, Dr Pillai said that the wings of the fighter could be "reinforced" to carry three missiles.

BrahMos Aerospace is bullish about the export prospects of the missile, which has been fitted on some frontline warships like the Rajput class of destroyers.

New stealth frigates being acquired from Russia as a follow-on order of the Talwar class will also come with BrahMos.

Dr G Leonov Alexander, designer general, NPO Mashinostroyenia, said the target was to export about 1,000 missiles to friendly countries, already identified by the joint venture firm's supervisory council, in the near future.

BrahMos offers figures to justify the optimism -- the world accounts for over 80,000 sub-sonic missiles and as older versions get outdated, the market will only expand.

"The size of the market is bigger than our previous analysis. Earlier we were talking about the missile only in anti-ship and land attack mode. Now we also have the air-launched version," Leonov said.

Comparing it with the sub-sonic Tomahawk, Pillai said the "kill power" of BrahMos -- the world's only supersonic cruise missile -- was nine times more and it would take just one-thirds the time to neutralise a target. Maintaining that BrahMos did not have a competitor, Pillai underlined the need for conceiving a "parallel programme' to stay ahead of the competition in the coming decade.

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First Published: Jan 23, 2007 18:10 IST