Balasore: With successful user trials of a land-to-land version behind it, the BrahMos missile is heading for another critical test. A submarine launched version of the supersonic cruise missile may very likely be tested, as early as next month, from the Indian Navy's Vishakhapatnam base, if reports in the media are anything to go by. This will be the first ever test for the BrahMos in a sub-surface configuration.
So far, the BrahMos has undergone successful tests in its ship-to-ship and land-to-land versions.
The Indian Navy was the first customer for BrahMos and has deployed the missile aboard its Kashin class destroyers. With user trials over, the Indian Army is now set to induct the missile as part of its arsenal.
The supersonic BrahMos is a unique missile in the world, unmatched for its speed (Mach 3), precision and power. It is also unique in that it has no known counter. This position may rapidly change, however, as advanced countries work hard to develop defences against it.
According to Dr A Sivathanu Pillai, CEO and MD, BrahMos Aerospace Limited, a successful test of the sub-surface version of the BrahMos will be a watershed in the Indian defence programme. This version, however, is awaiting a platform from which to test.
"The submarine version of BrahMos is ready to be tested, but we are actually waiting for the platform," Pillai said.
According to Government sources, BrahMos Aerospace is already in talks with the Indian Navy for a Kilo-class submarine from which to launch the missile. Failing this, "The submarine variants alternatively could be tested in Russian waters from a Russian submarine," sources said.
DRDO's recent string of successes, with the beyond-visual-range-air-to-air-missile (BVRAAM) `Astra' and the 'Dhanush,' a naval version of the surface-to-surface missile, 'Prithvi,' in March and April have given it a great start to the year. The successful test of the extended range Agni-III missile, recently, has so far been the crowning glory.
BrahMos is also being configured in an air-to-air version, for deployment aboard the Indian Air Force's Su-30MKI fighter jets. The air-launch version has a smaller booster and additional tailfins for stability during launch.
The missile has attracted a great deal of interest in a number of countries around the world.