The Indian Navy conducted its first test-firing of the sea-to-land attack version of its advanced supersonic cruise missile Brahmos on Friday. The missile has a strike range of at least 290 km and can hit targets with pin-point accuracy while cruising at supersonic speeds. The Navy conducted the test off the shore of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The missile, installed on a naval warship INS Teg, was fired at a target on an island among a group of other targets. The missile destroyed the locked target with precision. This successful test puts India into the superior league of countries that have this kind of strike capability.
How was Brahmos conceived and how did it reach this stage? Here is all you need to know about the world’s deadliest cruise missile:
The Brahmos missile is developed by a joint-venture between Russia’s Mashinostroyenia and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The name Brahmos is a portmanteau of the Brahmaputra and the Moskva rivers.
The missile is a two-stage supersonic cruise missile. The first phase is run by a solid-propellant booster engine. This launches the missile and takes it to supersonic velocity. It then detaches. The second phase then kicks in with the liquid fuel ramjet engines that take the missile to cruise speeds of up to mach 3 — nearly three times the speed of sound.
The missile is equipped with advanced embedded software, guidance systems and stealth technology which increases its precision strike capability. The team that has developed the missile claims that no known weapons system can intercept the Brahmos. The missile operates on ‘fire and forget principle’. It means that after the launch, the missile can make use of a lot of different flight trajectories as it approaches the target. The warhead that the Brahmos carries is anywhere around 200-300 kgs. While its cruising altitude can go up to 15 km, it can achieve a terminal altitude of 10 metres. Its massive kinetic energy adds to its destructive power.
The Brahmos missile uses a Transport Launch Canister. This is used to transport, store and launch the missile and the Brahmos has identical configuration for all variants apart from the airborne — land, sea, sub-sea.
When was the Brahmos missile inducted?
The Brahmos Weapons Complex was inducted for the first time by the Navy back in 2005. It is the first supersonic cruise missile in service. The missile system was first configured with the INS Rajput. All naval vessels which will be built in the future or will come in for mid-life upgradation are to be fitted with the Brahmos missile. At least 10 ships have already been equipped with the system.
The Indian Army has also inducted three regiments of the land-based variant and induction of a fourth is in the pipeline. The land and sea variants are already in service while the air and submarine versions are still under trials. The missile is capable of being deployed in vertical as well as inclined configurations.
The first test firing of the missile was done on 12 June 2001 from Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur in a vertical launch configuration. The next test was done in June 2004 when it was fired from a mobile launcher. Four years later in March 2008, the missile was test fired from Indian Navy’s destroyer INS Rajput. Another test was done from INS Ranvir in December 2008.
The Army variant’s first successful test launch was conducted in December 2004 at a test range in Pokharan and then subsequently in 2007 as well.
In a trial in 2009, the missile was equipped with a new navigation system but during the test it missed the target. It was maintained the problem was in the software and not the hardware. After this glitch and modifications, the Army was convinced of the high standards of the missile and the Block II version of the missile was completed.
In 2010, two major developments took place. In March, the missile struck a free floating ship in a test and in September achieved a world record–it tested at supersonic speeds in steep dive missions.
In what is another impressive quality, the Brahmos is the only supersonic cruise missile in the world that can lock in on a target amid a flurry of bogeys/targets and engaging the selected target.
The Block III was tested in December 2010. It could employ its steep dive capability to hit targets in mountainous terrains.
In October 2012, the missile was test fired from INS Teg frigate. This was the first time it was equipped with satellite navigation and it was also capable of carrying nuclear payloads.
The current navigation system of the missile forms a part of the Indian G3OM chip configuration which is GPS, GLONASS, GAGAN on a Module. The 17 gm system makes use of navigation system of Indian, Russian and US satellites and gives a strike accuracy of less than five 15 feet.
First submarine launch test was done in 2013 off the Bay of Bengal. In the future, the missiles would be configured in a way that it would be possible to launch the Brahmos from the torpedo tube itself.
The air launch trials are due this year with modifications done on Sukhoi 30 MKi which will be used to launch the missile for air-launched attacks.
The Brahmos is also a part of the government’s Make in India and defence equipment export plans with the missile system being one of the most sought after defence product from India.