BrahMos underwater launch in 2008
The next two stages of the BrahMos missile programme would be completed by 2009, with its underwater launch likely this year, a Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) official said in Chennai on Wednesday.
The BrahMos category missile capable of being launched from underwater would be test fired in 2008, said A. Sivathanu Pillai, scientist and chief controller (R&D) and in charge of the programme at DRDO.
"The missile is fully ready," he said on the sidelines of the Nanotechnology Conclave 2008, sponsored by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
The universal launch platform that will be used underwater to stage the missile is, however, yet to be found, he said.
It could be a platform supported by a submarine or it would have to be a portable platform, to be built, carried and submerged at a pre-determined location, said Pillai.
As the Brahmos are cruise missiles, "their velocity does not change" and they cannot weigh more than three tonnes, the scientist said.
India is also bound by the international Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR - imposed by the five nuclear powers) and cannot go beyond the 290 km/500kg range for the BrahMos category of missiles.
DRDO's BrahMos group and the Russians are negotiating underwater launch mechanisms.
The air-to air version of the Brahmos missile is also in its finishing stages and is expected to be tested in 2009, Pillai said.
"There is need to reduce the weight of the booster engines," he explained, adding, "We are also still working on the avionics."
Pillai also said that India was now looking at hypersonic technology - five times the speed of sound and therefore faster than supersonic.
On March 5, India successfully tested the ship-to-shore version of the supersonic BrahMos missile, firing at an uninhabited island in the Andaman & Nicobar group. The missile had a range of more than 290 km and was launched from the Russia-acquired missile destroyer INS Rajput.
This was the 15th test of the missile jointly developed by Russia and India. The launch-and-strike time for BrahMos is much less than any other missile, giving it a distinct advantage as a weapon.
Indian and Russian scientists have already carried out successful tests of four versions of the Brahmos, said to be the only "supersonic" cruise missile system in the world - the technology shared by India and Russia.
"All other countries, including the US have subsonic systems," Pillai said.
The ship-to-shore test added to India's arsenal of ship-to-ship, land to ship and surface-to-surface versions of the multi-role missiles.