The acquisition of multi-role capability of platforms and equipment, along with multi-skill capability of its personnel has emboldened the IAF to steadfastly safeguard Indian skies

Indian Air Force – one of the mightiest air powers in the world – has been swiftly and comprehensively enhancing its operational capabilities and strategic outreach by inducting new-generation platforms, weapons and related systems to bolster its combat power and war-readiness in the backdrop of rapidly evolving geopolitical landscape. The acquisition of multi-role capability of platforms and equipment, along with multi-skill capability of its personnel has emboldened the IAF to steadfastly safeguard Indian skies.

A stand-off weapon with unmatched speed, precision and firepower which has galvanized the IAF’s modern air combat capability manifold is supersonic cruise missile BRAHMOS. The formidable tactical weapon in its advanced air-launched configuration arming the IAF’s frontline Sukhoi Su-30MKI strike aircraft has emerged as an “unparalleled weapon-platform combination” having the lethality to completely decimate strategic ground- and sea-based enemy targets with pin-point accuracy.

The powerful BRAHMOS air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) system, designed, developed and produced by BrahMos Aerospace – the India-Russia Joint Venture (JV) defence entity involving DRDO and NPOM – has been inducted in the Indian Air Force in January 2020. The formidable “Tigersharks” squadron consisting the Su-30MKI-BRAHMOS-A weapon-platform combination has enormously sharpened and widened the IAF’s modern aerial warfare potentiality. The convergence of the airborne missile’s unmatched capabilities with the frontline fighter platform’s superior, super-manoeuvrable air power has outclassed any other such system worldwide.

As the heaviest and deadliest weapon to arm a long-range, air superiority fighter aircraft, BRAHMOS-A is capable of annihilating strategic sea and ground-based enemy targets from within and beyond visibility range. The Sukhoi-30MKI’s capability to launch the weapon from large, stand-off ranges without getting closer to enemy positions renders it an unparalleled edge.

With its impeccable anti-ship and land-attack power, supersonic BRAHMOS-A underwent a series of successful test firings prior to its induction in the IAF. The formidable weapon established its superlative performance to neutralise both maritime and ground-based targets in day-and-night, all-weather conditions from stand-off ranges.

Today, BRAHMOS ALCM has positioned itself as the world’s most powerful conventional air-borne precision strike weapon in terms of range, lethality and effectiveness.

In a landmark development, the ALCM became India’s first indigenous weapon of such class and calibre to receive the “fleet release clearance” certification from Bengaluru-based Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC), DRDO, in June 2020. The FRC certification paved the way for the pilots of IAF squadrons to use the tactical missile during combat missions.

The universal BRAHMOS, having been deployed with Indian Army and Navy, has become India’s ‘ultimate weapon of choice’ to undertake network-centric warfare operations. The IAF has also raised BRAHMOS land-attack (LACM) squadron to safeguard territorial integrity.

The commissioning of BRAHMOS-airborne weapon in the IAF has made India the first and only country in the world to complete its “supersonic cruise missile triad.”

All three services of India conducted a series of successful test firings of supersonic BRAHMOS from ground, sea and air platforms between October and December 2020 as part of “capacity enhancement” and also to ensure the missile’s “war-readiness”. The fire & forget, quick-reaction BRAHMOS reaffirmed its flexibility and credence to be swiftly deployed in any kinds of terrain and from various platforms over longer distances at a very short notice.

The Indian Air Force in May 2022 conducted successful test firing of an enhanced variant of BRAHMOS air-launched weapon system. The missile scored a direct hit against the designated target in the Bay of Bengal, thus proving its mettle yet again.

BrahMos Aerospace, the manufacturer of BRAHMOS Weapon System, has expedited the indigenisation work on the missile system. In close coordination with DRDO, the JV entity has been successful in indigenising several critical technologies and components of BRAHMOS, thus enhancing India’s national security parameters and at the same time, reducing the tactical weapon’s overall production and maintenance costs.

“As a top-of-the-line precision guided weapon, BRAHMOS has evolved over the years. We have continuously upgraded, enhanced and incorporated new, highly advanced featured in the missile system to improve its overall performance parameters. The number of developmental trials and user trials of BRAHMOS carried out so far having an unmatched success rate speaks volumes about this unique missile system which we have delivered to the Indian Armed Forces. BRAHMOS has hugely bolstered India’s combat potential in the 21st century,” says Atul Dinkar Rane, CEO & MD of BrahMos Aerospace.

The year 2022 has marked yet another glorious milestone for the BrahMos JV with the formidable BRAHMOS becoming India’s first full-fledged weapon to enter the international export market. On January 28, 2022, BrahMos Aerospace has signed a historic export contract with the Republic of Philippines to deliver the shore-based BRAHMOS anti-ship weapon system to the Armed Forces of Philippines.

“As part of Govt of India’s policy of promoting responsible defence exports, we have received the multi-million dollar contract from the Republic of Philippines. This contract is an outstanding outcome of BrahMos JV’s ‘Make to Market’ strategy. We now intend to take this momentum forward to achieve more successful results on the exports front. Many countries across continents have evinced strong interest in the versatile BRAHMOS and we are very hopeful to achieve more and more export breakthroughs in near future,” says Dr. Sanjeev Kr Joshi, Deputy CEO of the India-Russia BrahMos JV.

With several nations operating the Russian-origin Sukhoi-30 fighter platform, the powerful BRAHMOS-A, in particular, has emerged as a potential weapon of export for their air forces.

BrahMos JV in the meanwhile has also started work on a new smaller, lighter BRAHMOS configuration which would be called BRAHMOS-NG (next-generation). With its reduced dimensions, the new weapon would be compatible for fitment onboard a wider number of modern military platforms – land, sea, air – that too, in more numbers.

Once developed and tested successfully, the highly advanced BRAHMOS-NG would hold immense potential to accelerate India’s defence export aspirations to newer heights. BrahMos JV would lead from the front to boost India’s status as a net exporter of weapons in the coming years.