A BrahMos-NG missile displayed on an underwing pylon of a Tejas LCA Mk-1 jet

by Rahul Udoshi

The air-launched BrahMos cruise missile developed by the Indo-Russian joint venture (JV) BrahMos Aerospace is likely to be inducted with the Indian Air Force (IAF) in early 2020, a JV official told Jane's during the 20-24 February Aero India 2019 exhibition in Bangalore.

The official said that the BrahMos-A cruise missile is set to begin its final developmental or certification trials in the third quarter of 2019, more than 20 months after the weapon successfully completed its first flight test. The missile's induction will begin immediately after two certified launches against a naval and a ground target are carried out, he added.

As part of the upcoming trials, which are expected to take place before the end of the year, a BrahMos-A missile fitted with a 300 kg warhead will be fired from an IAF Sukhoi Su-30MKI multi-role fighter to engage a target at a range of 290 km.

The 2.5-tonne, two-stage, air-launched cruise missile is a modified variant of its basic naval/land configuration. It features several design refinements, which include a lighter propulsion system, as well as redesigned fins and nose cap.

If successful, the IAF aims to equip two Su-30MKI (Modified) squadrons (Totalling 42 fighters) with the BrahMos-A to augment its precision-strike capabilities. In this development, India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has similarly readied a second modified Su-30MKI at its Nasik complex in western India and will ready remaining aircraft in phases.

During the show, the JV also exhibited lighter variant of the air-launched BrahMos, called BrahMos NG, equipped on underwing pylons of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk 1A aircraft. The intended air-launched variant would be initially developed to be fired from LCA Tejas Mk 1A aircraft, each of which would carry a maximum of two missiles.