Thursday, December 21, 2017

PART : IV : India’s 'Carrier Killer': The Air-Launched BrahMos Missile


Refer to 


 PART  :  II




                                                        PART : IV

                  India’s 'Carrier Killer': 

     The Air-Launched BrahMos Missile


Last week, a modified Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi
 Su-30MKI fighter jet took off from Kalaikunda 
airbase in West Bengal and fired a BrahMos 
supersonic, nuclear-capable cruise missile at a 
target ship in the Bay of Bengal. Flying over a 
distance of 260 kilometers, the missile 
effectively destroyed the vessel. This test is a 
game changer for Indian offensive prowess in the 
Indian Ocean region as the missile will act as a 
potent aircraft carrier killer due to its speed, range, 
and launch platform.

Technical capabilities
press release from the Indian Ministry of 
Defence said “the air launched BrahMos missile is a 
2.5 ton supersonic air to surface cruise missile” with
 a range of over 400 kilometers. This particular 
missile test signifies a major leap for the BrahMos 
project and vastly expands India’s anti-
access bubble in the Indian Ocean. Fitting this 
missile on fighter jets enables Indian forces to 
quickly respond to targets at long-range distances. 
As such, this capability now acts as both a deterrent 
to enemy attack and as an offensive weapon.

The mating of the missile with the aircraft, followed
 by its clean separation during the launch, 
represents a significant technological achievement 
by IAF and Defence Research and Development 
Organisation (DRDO) engineers. The development 
of an air-launched platform makes the BrahMos an 
ideal aircraft carrier killer that can keep enemy 
Carrier Strike Group’s (CSG) far from the Indian 

A joint venture between India and Russia, the 
BrahMos derives its name from Brahmaputra and 
Moskva rivers. Previous versions have already been 
deployed by the Army and Navy. In fact, the anti-ship
 variant was the first to be tested and subsequently 
deployed on frontline warships, greatly augmenting 
the Navy’s first strike capabilities. BrahMos began as
 an anti-ship warfare missile which means it already
 has the ability to pick and destroy solitary ships 
operating in the vast expanses of the ocean. 

The Army variant designed to strike targets in urban
 environments with pinpoint accuracy was deployed
 later. Both these variants were major force 
multipliers for the Indian military, but it is the air 
variant which tips the scales for India in the region 
in terms of India’s anti-access reach.

Going into further detail, the BrahMos’ ability to 
overcome the defenses of a CSG is significant. 
Namely, an aircraft carrier is always escorted by a 
battle group, which creates a layered self-defense 
bubble around the carrier. As such, a single 
incoming missile, even at several times the speed of 
sound, could be shot down by the formidable air 
defense systems of the CSG. But a volley of multiple 
BrahMos missiles fired from several Su-30MKI 
aircraft would be a tall order to intercept.

It only takes one successful hit to cripple the carrier
 and thereby render the CSG meaningless. More than the loss of the carrier capability and carrier’s 
enormous cost, the blow to morale due to the loss of 
personnel and national pride would also be 
crippling. It must be remembered that carrier 
operation is a significant technological and financial
 challenge and few nations on this planet maintain 

Implementation and Regional

This context demonstrates BrahMos’ potency. The 
missile will also contribute to India’s conventional 
deterrence in that the missile and launch aircraft 
operate in a highly dense electro-magnetic space and
 air defense cover. Having fighter jets equipped with
 BrahMos missiles allows Indian forces to deploy 
those missiles outside the range of enemy air
defenses and destroy command and control centers 
and other critical infrastructure. Once the missile is 
launched, the fighter aircraft can scoot away quickly 
before the adversary can react. The Su-30 has a 
maximum speed of Mach 2 (or 2,470 kilometers per 
hour) and an in-flight range of 3,000 kilometers 
which can be further extended by mid-air refueling, 
vastly expanding the operational footprint. The IAF 
plans to modify at least 40 Su-30MKIs to carry 
the BrahMos missiles. Another factor which further 
enhances this capability is the increasing range of 
the BrahMos.

The range is being extended in stages since India 
joined the Missile Technology Control Regime 
(MTCR) in 2016 from the original 290 kilometers to
 450 kilometers. Work is underway to expand this 

It is yet to be seen how countries in the Indian Ocean
 will react to this development. When speaking of the
 regional “footprint” of BrahMos in the Indian 
Ocean, China provides the underlying subtext as 
India’s only adversary that operates a 
carrier and is building more. China’s actions in 
the Indian Ocean region have already caused 
concern among Indian strategic thinkers, including
 the 2014 docking of a Chinese submarine in
 Colombo, Sri Lanka. In a recent Navy Day press 
conference, Indian Admiral Sunil Lanba reported 
that there are 
     eight Chinese PLA Navy ships 
deployed in the Indian Ocean at any one time. As 
such, the successful test of the air-launched 
BrahMos last month may impact Beijing’s strategy 
towards the Indian Ocean region.

In sum, last month’s test is the first in a series of 
many developmental tests needed to fully validate 
the BrahMos missile before it can be operationally 
deployed. However, once inducted it will bring 
important improvements to the capacity to the IAF 
in keeping adversaries at a distance.

Dinakar Peri is Defense Correspondent at The Hindu. A version of this piece originally appeared at South Asian Voices, an online platform for strategic analysis and debate hosted by the Stimson Center.



Work to integrate BrahMos on 40 Sukhoi fighter aircraft starts

Heaviest weapon on Sukhoi-30
  • BrahMos will be the heaviest weapon to be fitted on India’s Su-30 fighter aircraft

  • The fleet will undergo structural modifications at state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd 

  • With this, IAF capability to strike from large stand-off ranges on any target on sea or land will rise manifold

  • BrahMos is named after two rivers: Brahmaputra and Moskva (flowing in western Russia)

290 km the missile’s range — extendable up to 400 km as certain technical restrictions were lifted after India became a full member of the Missile Technology Control Regime in 2016
2.5 tonne the missile’s weight, which flies almost three times the speed of sound at Mach 2.8
2020 year by which the missile- Sukhoi integration project is expected to be completed

Work has begun to integrate the BrahMos 

supersonic cruise missile on 40 Sukhoi 

combat aircraft, which is expected to fulfil 

critical needs of the Indian Air Force in the 

wake of evolving security dynamics in the 


The air-launched variant of the BrahMos, the

 world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile, was

 successfully test-fired from a Sukhoi-30 

combat jet on November 22, marking a 

major milestone to enhance the precision-

strike capability of the Air Force.

The work to integrate the BrahMos missile on 40 Sukhoi combat aircraft has begun. A timeline for the project is being set, official sources said without elaborating.  
It is learnt that the project is expected to be completed by 2020. The fleet of 40 Sukhoi jet will undergo structural modifications at the state-run aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for integration of the missile on them. The 2.5-tonne missile flies almost three times the speed of sound at Mach 2.8 and has a range of 290 km. 
The range of the missile, an Indo-Russia joint venture, can be extended up to 400 km as certain technical restrictions were lifted after India became a full member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) last year.
“It is a very important project considering IAF’s evolving requirement to boost air power when the possibility of a two-front war cannot be ruled out,” said an official.
After the test firing of the air-launched version, the IAF had said the missile coupled with the superlative performance of the Su-30 aircraft will give the force a strategic reach and will allow it to dominate the ocean and the battlefields. The integration of the missile on Sukhoi aircraft is a very complex process involving mechanical, electrical and software modifications of the Su-30 jet. BrahMos is a joint venture between DRDO of India and NPO Mashinostroyenia of Russia. 


[A]  BrahMos

[B]  BrahMos-II




 [2]  BrahMos Block I - World's Fastest Supersonic 

Cruise Missile from India/Russia


No comments:

Post a Comment