Chennai: The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile underwent a fresh test firing on Wednesday, its 15th overall since development, in a new configuration. The BrahMos was test fired in the sea-to-land mode from INS Rajput, a guided missile destroyer, striking a target on the beach of an uninhabited island in the Nicobar group of islands in the Bay of Bengal.
"We kept a target on the sand dunes of the island. It was hit. It was a precision-mission. This is an important mission for us because the Navy is acquiring the capability, with the same BrahMos, to destroy targets on the coast," said Dr A Sivathanu Pillai, chief executive officer and managing director, BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited.
This 15th launch of the BrahMos was configured for a sea-to-land strike as separate from its previous 14 launches, which have been in the ship-to-ship, land-to-ship and land-to-land modes.
BrahMos is a nine-metre long two-stage missile with a diameter of 70cm that weighs 3.9 tonnes along with the canister. It travels at a speed of Mach 2.8, which is about three times faster than the US subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile, carrying a 300kg warhead to a distance of 290km.
Named after India's Brahmaputra river and Russia's Moskva river, the missile can hit ground and sea-based targets while flying at an altitude as low as 10 meters (30 feet) and at a speed of Mach 2.8.
The BrahMos, currently, is unique in the armouries of the world
The Indian Navy was the first service to test and induct the missile. The INS Rajput, incidentally, also served as the trial ship for the missile through its development phase for the Navy.
The missile was first tested successfully against sea-based targets in 2004 and inducted for operations in June 2006. Apart from the Kashin-class guided missile destroyers, such as the INS Rajput, the missile has also been deployed onboard the Talwar-class (Krivak) Project 1135.6 stealth frigates.
The next version of the missile to be developed successfully was the land-attack cruise missile (LACM) version for the Indian Army.
Work is currently underway to create aircraft-and submarine-based versions of the BrahMos. Speaking after the tests, Dr Pillai said that the submarine version of the missile would be tested as soon as the Navy identified a suitable platform.
The airborne version, currently under development, would likely be installed on the Sukhoi-30MKI air superiority fighters.
After the tests, Dr Pillai said that defence minister AK Antony had called up to congratulate the team for the successful test.
BrahMos Aerospace is an Indo-Russian joint venture that is now ready to embark on serial production of this missile. Experts estimate that India might purchase up to 1,000 BrahMos missiles for its armed forces in the next decade, and export 2,000 to other countries during the same period.