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Air-launched BRAHMOS to be test-fired in Dec 2010

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NEW DELHI (PTI): India and Russia are planning to test-fire the air-launched version of their jointly-developed BRAHMOS supersonic cruise missile from a Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft in December next year.

Work on the air-launched version of the missile is in the final stages and BRAHMOS scientists are now waiting for the Su-30MKI aircraft from India to act as a platform for test launch of the missile, Defence Ministry sources said here.

The air-launched version, they said, will be lighter and smaller than the land-based version of the missile so that it can be fitted with the aircraft.

One of the two speed boosters in the missile has been removed for the air version of the weapon system as after being launched from an aircraft moving at a speed of more than 1.5 mach, the missile will automatically gain its momentum and maintain its speed of 2.8 mach, the sources said.

After being released from the aircraft, the missile will have a free fall of about 150 metres before getting activated and flying to its target.

The range and speed of the missile will remain the same as that of its land and ship-launched versions, they said.

For the integration of the aircraft with the missile, two of IAF Su-30 MKI planes will be used. These aircraft would be part of the 40 additional Su-30s, for which orders were placed in 2006.

Soon after induction into the IAF, the two aircraft will be sent back to Russia where their airframe will be strengthened to carry the missile in their underbelly, the source said, adding, they are expected to be inducted into the operational service of both India and Russia by 2012.

With the induction of the air-launched version of the missiles, enemy targets deep within its territory will also be in reach of the 290 km range supersonic cruise missile.

BRAHMOS also has plans of test-firing the submarine launched version of the missile off the coast of Orissa in December, 2009.

The missile has been developed jointly by India and Russia and has already been inducted in the Indian Army and Navy.

Army has inducted one regiment of BRAHMOS and has placed orders for two more regiments, while the Navy is equipping all its frontline ships with the cruise missile.

India and Russia have also signed an agreement for developing the hypersonic version of the missile which will fly at a speed of more than six mach.

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