The fastest supersonic cruise missile in the world–the Brahmos– created history on Wednesday when it was successfully test-fired for the first time from an Indian Air Force’s Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft against a sea-based target in the Bay of Bengal.
The missile was not launched directly from the aircraft, rather it was dropped from under its fuselage. The missile’s two-stage engine then fired up propelling it towards the target at supersonic speeds.
Here are five things you need to know:
- This test effectively gives the Indian armed forces the ability to fire Brahmos Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM). According to a post launch release by the Ministry of Defence, the successful test firing “will significantly bolster the IAF’s air combat operations capability from stand-off ranges.”
- The Brahmos ALCM weighs 2.5 tonne and till date it is the heaviest weapon to be deployed on the Su-30 MKI. The aircraft was especially modified by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for giving it the missile-carrying capability. The missile is propelled first by a solid propellant booster engine that takes it to supersonic speeds. After it separates, the missile is accelerated further to around three times the speed of sound (mach 3) in the cruise phase with a liquid ramjet.
- The armed forces now have a multi-platform, multi-mission cruise missile that can be launched from land, sea and air. This completes the tactical cruise missile triad for India which is a world record. The Brahmos cruise missiles have an effective strike range of around 290-300 km. The land and warship versions have already been inducted by the armed forces. It is also first supersonic cruise missile known to be in service.
- The air-launched version of the missile has lesser weight and additional rear fins which add aerodynamic stability while separating from the aircraft. Besides, all three versions have a “fire and forget” principle of operation. It also takes a variety of trajectories while in flight and is equipped with advanced guidance technology. Its stealth features also give it a low radar signature.
- Brahmos is a joint venture between India and Russia. The missile has been jointly developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPOM. The name Brahmos has been taken as a combination of the two rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva.