New Delhi: India is moving ahead with its plans to equip its frontline air superiority fighter, the Sukhoi-30MKI with the air launched version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. According to agency reports, both India and Russia will be holding talks by the end of the month to discuss the issue.
India has already dispatched two of these heavyweight Su-30 MKI fighters to Russia for modification of the aircraft's fuselage so that they will be able to carry the modified, air-launched version of the BrahMos.
The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is joint Indo-Russian development.
Reports quote unidentified ministry of defence officials as saying that the modification work on the aircraft is expected to be complete by early 2010, though no deadlines have been set.
The aerial version of the BrahMos will be shorter in length than the standard land or marine versions and will have the capability to auto-launch towards the target after being released from the aircraft by the pilot.
Once the air-launched version has been fully developed the BrahMos will become the only cruise missile in the world to operate in land, sea and air versions. It has already been inducted by the Army and the Navy.
The conventional BrahMos has a range of 290 km and carries a 300 kg conventional warhead at a speed of around 2.8 Mach.
Meanwhile, Indian Air Force and Sukhoi experts are jointly investigating an April 30 crash of a Su030MKI fighter which resulted in the death of a crew member. The fighter, part of a group of four, was returning to base after a routine training sortie when it went into an uncontrollable spin.
The crash is the aircraft's first since its induction in 2002.