India successfully test-fires a new BrahMos supersonic cruise missile

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NEW DELHI: India’s conventional precision-strike capabilities now have a longer reach. A new BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, with an extended range of 450km from the earlier 290km, was successfully test-fired from the integrated test range at Balasore off the Odisha coast on Saturday, March 11 morning.

The land-attack version of the missile, which flies almost three times the speed of sound at Mach 2.8, was fired at “an electronic target” at 11.30am. The launch, executed with high precision from the mobile autonomous launcher deployed in full configuration, “met all the test parameters”, said defense scientists.

“With the successful test firing of the extended range BrahMos, the Indian armed forces will be empowered to knock down enemy targets far beyond 400kms. BrahMos has thus proved its prowess once again as the best supersonic cruise missile system in the world,” said BrahMos Aerospace chief Sudhir Mishra, who oversaw the test-firing at Balasore.

The technology upgrade to the extended range BrahMos comes after India gained entry into the 34-nation Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June last year, which “removed the caps” on the range of the missile developed with the help of Russia. The MTCR basically prevents the proliferation of missiles and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) over the range of 300km.

As earlier reported by TOI, after the front in Pakistan, the government has approved deployment of the missile’s Block-III version, which has “trajectory maneuver and steep dive capabilities” for mountain warfare operations, in Arunachal Pradesh to counter China’s huge build of military infrastructure all along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control.

“The missiles already approved for induction can now also be upgraded from the 290-km to 450km range with minor modifications and tweaking of the propulsion system, avionics, fire-control system and mission software. It will not require huge costs,” said a scientist.

It was in 2007 that the Army had first inducted a regiment of BrahMos-I, which consists of 67 missiles, five mobile autonomous launchers on 12×12 Tatra vehicles and two mobile command posts, among other equipment.

Since then, the Army has inducted three BrahMos regiments, with the fourth being on the way. Ten warships have also been equipped with the missiles, which has become the standard offensive weapon for the Navy.

With the combined orders placed for BrahMos missiles already around Rs 27,000 crore, the IAF is also slated to begin testing the missile from its heavy-duty Sukhoi-30MKI fighters soon.

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