India's success in test-firing the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile of an enhanced range of 500km from its frontline fighter Sukhoi-30 MKI (Su-30MKI) makes it the only country operating fighter jets armed with long-range supersonic cruise missiles, reports say. The upgraded version of the homegrown BrahMos missile with an enhanced range is ready after successful testing from Indian Air Force (IAF) Su-30MKI warplane, a PTI report said citing BrahMos Aerospace CEO Sudhir Kumar Mishra.
The supersonic terrain-hugging missile that travels at nearly thrice the speed of sound at 2.8-Mach until now could hit targets only as far as 300km. The improved version that can target enemy assets as far away as 500km brings many more strategic installations deep inside Pakistan sitting ducks.
The latest version of this supersonic missile also has the deep-dive capability for vertical strikes on naval vessels and even land-based targets hidden behind mountains. This capability will act as a strong deterrent against a Kargil-like situation in the future.
India has already tested the missile that can be tipped with a nuclear weapon from multiple platforms including a land-based mobile launcher, a sea-based warship, and a warplane. "India has successfully test-fired a vertical deep dive version of BrahMos, the world's fastest supersonic cruise missile, that can now change the dynamics of conventional warfare...the upgraded version of the missile with enhanced range of up to 500 km is also ready," Mishra said.
He said India is now the only country in the world to integrate long-range supersonic cruise missiles onto fighter jets after the BrahMos missile was test-fired from a Su-30 aircraft of IAF.
Mishra said India could further increase the range of the missile because the country was now a signatory to the elite Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). "India has successfully test-fired a vertical deep dive version of BrahMos, the world's fastest supersonic cruise missile, that can now change the dynamics of conventional warfare... the upgraded version of the missile with enhanced range of up to 500 km is also ready," the report quotes Mishra as saying.
Some defence experts reckon the IAF decision to accelerate the integration of BrahMos jointly developed by India and Russia into Su-30MKI was prompted by the PAF misadventure of sending a few warplanes across the Line of Control in Kashmir on February 27 after India bombed Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Balakot to avenge Pulwama terror strike. IAF planes drove back PAF planes in the process shooting down a PAF F-16 while losing a Soviet-era MiG-21 from which Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman bailed out and landed on the Pakistani side of Kashmir.
Travelling at nearly thrice the speed of light a low altitude that helps early radar detection, the 2.5-tonne missile can be very destructive to targets on land and sea alike. The newly acquired deep-dive capability makes the missile almost impossible to stop even when it is detected at the terminal stage.