Brahmos Missile - a knol by Vijainder K Thakur Brahmos Missile Supersonic cruise missile jointly developed by Russia and India BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land. It is a joint venture between India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Russia's NPO Mashinostroeyenia who have together formed the BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited. Contents Technical Details Operational status News Army losing interest in Brahmos missile Repeat test successful Third test successful Fourth test successful Brahmos carried on a Su-30MKI mock up at Aero India 2009. Photo Copyright © Vijainder K Thakur The Brahmos is based on the SS-NX-26 (Yakhont) missile, which was under development when the Cold War ended in 1991 after which the project ran aground because of lack of funds. India invested $240 million to complete two decades of the missile's development and contributed its inertial navigation system. DRDO claims that the missile was jointly developed by India and Russia. However, 80 % of its components, including the liquid ramjet engine and the radar seeker, are imported in knock-down condition to be reassembled by the Russians. Technical Details The 9.2 m long missile weighs about three tonnes. It can travel at speeds of up to 2.8 Mach or almost thrice the speed of sound. It has a range of 290 km (180 miles) and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg (660 lb). For target acquisition, the Brahmos uses an active/passive seeker which could be an improved variant of the one found in the Moskit cruise missile provided by Russia to China. Block II LACM versions of missiles being supplied to the Indian Army feature an active seeker with an ability to discern a designated target from amidst multiple. A two-stage missile, its propulsion consists of a solid propellant booster and liquid propellant Ramjet system. Brahmos, incidentally, is the first and only supersonic cruise missile that uses liquid Ramjet technology. The missile is launched from a Transport-Launch Canister (TLC), which also acts as storage and transportation container. Primarily Brahmos is an anti-ship missile. It has the capability to engage land based targets also. The missile can be launched either in vertical or inclined position and will cover 360 degrees. The Brahmos missile has identical configuration for land, sea and sub sea platforms. The air-launched version has a smaller booster and additional tail fins for stability during launch Unlike a conventional cruise missile, like the Tomahawk, which flies at subsonic speeds and hugs the terrain to avoid detection the Brahmos soars high up and accelerates to supersonic speeds quickly allowing its ramjet engine to kick in and sustain its Mach 2.8 cruise towards the target. When over the target it acquires an independent (Passive / Active) lock on it and rams down onto it with high kinetic energy. Since the Brahmos is traveling at 3 times the speed of a conventional subsonic cruise missile, consequently it hits the target with nine times more destructive force. Operational status Naval Variant Naval and land based versions of the Brahmos missile have been tested and inducted into service. The naval variant of Brahmos on inclined launchers is fitted on INS Rajput. A vertical launch version of the missile was tested from Rajput-class destroyer INS Ranvir in December 2008. The vertical launcher is designed to be fitted under the warship's deck, thereby protecting it from atmospheric conditions and imparting stealth to the weapon system. It also allows the missile to engage targets 360 degrees around the ship. Three Kolkata-class P-15A ships being built at Mazagon Docks in Mumbai at a cost of Rs 11,662 crore and three more Talwar class ships (known as 1135.6 class in Russia) at Kaliningrad in Russia at a cost of Rs 5,514 crore will also have similar Vertical Launcher modules. Land Attack Variant A land attack cruise missile (LACM) version of Brahmos was inducted into the Army in June 2007. The Army has plans to induct three batteries to constitute its first Brahmos regiment in near future to use the missile as a "precision first strike weapon." The first battery entered service in June 2007 A total of two regiments are planned. A battery consists of four road-mobile autonomous launchers on 12x12 Tatra vehicles, each with three missiles. Submarine Launched Variant Work is on to develop the submarine and air-launched versions of Brahmos. Airborne Variant An air launched version of the missile to be launched from a Su-30MKI fighter is under development. Sukhoi is working on the MKI modifications while Brahmos Aerospace is in the process of reducing the weight of the missile to 2.5 tons, from the 3.0 tons of the land based version. Since the airborne version will be launched at considerable height and speed it is possible to save weight by reducing the propellant carried on the ramjet missile. It is moot if the airborne version of the missile is being downsized to keep Russia compliant of the MTCR regime or because the MKIs cannot carry a 3.0 ton load on its center line pylon. It is also reported that the weight of missile missile warhead is being increased to 300kg from 200kg. It is possible that the weight saving achieved as a result of the reduced propellant load are being partially utilized to increase the destructive power of the missile. Drop trials of the missile, presumably from the IAF Su-30MKIs sent to Russia for modification, will be conducted in 2010. The missile is expected to be ready for induction into the IAF by 2112. News A land attack cruise missile (LACM) version of the Brahmos was tested at the Pokhran range in Jaisalmer on Tuesday, January 20. The test was witnessed by the Chief of Army staff General Deepak Kapoor and senior officials of Indian Air force. The missile test was a failure, the first acknowledge in 17 tests. Army losing interest in Brahmos missile Disappointed by the recent failure of the missile and the huge cost overruns, the Army is not inclined to procure the additional 240 missiles it showed interest in earlier. While placing the initial order for 66 missiles in 2006, the Army stipulated that Block II versions of the missiles delivered following the initial order be equipped with a "multi-spectral seeker" capable of better target discrimination than the current radar seeker. The army wants a seeker that allows the missile to stay locked to its designated target even when the target area is cluttered. The Block I missile radar seeker is only effective against isolated targets as the missile was basically designed to attack ships. When confronted with multiple targets in the target zone, the missile homes on to the target reflecting the maximum amount of radar energy. In the land attack mode the missile can easily stray off its designated target when adjacent objects have relatively higher radar reflection. Repeat test successful A repeat test of the Brahmos Block II Land Attack Cruise Missile (LACM) on Tuesday, March 3, at the Pokharan test range in Rajasthan was declared successful by the DRDO. "The Block II BrahMos missile was successfully launched at 1030 hours this morning," said an official of Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). The vertically launched missile "took two-and-a half-minutes to strike its target in the Pokhran firing range in Rajasthan." Indian Army has yet to acknowledge the success of the test. Third test successful A third test of the Block II version of Brahmos Land Attack Cruise Missile on Sunday, March 29, was termed "extremely successful" by the Indian Army The launch was witnessed by DG military operations Lt Gen A S Sekhon and commandant, School of Artillery, Lt Gen K R Rao. The Army which had not officially commented on the result of the second test on March 3, was unequivocal about the success of the test on Sunday. "Accuracy was the watchword. We had wanted them to include another sensor (in the missile). That is what these last three trials (were about). Because more than the naval version, in the Army, we wanted the missile to distinguish between similar kind of targets in urban areas. So this third test has been extremely successful," Army vice chief Lt Gen Noble Thamburaj told reporters. "The process (of induction) will now start. Because now after carrying out the three field trials, the army is absolutely satisfied," he added. Fourth test successful A fourth test of the Block II version of Brahmos on Wednesday, Juy 29, was described as a complete success with the missile striking the "bulls eye." "The missile took off successfully and hit the desired target at Ajasar area range situated 25 km away from launching pad, meeting all mission parameters," a source said. "With this launch, the requirement of Army for the land attack version with block-II advanced seeker software with target discriminating capabilities has been fully met and this version is ready for induction," the source said. The missile will provide an enhanced capability to the army for selection of a particular land target among a group of targets.