India hopes to develop the next version of its joint hypersonic cruise missile project with Russia, the BrahMos II, in the next five years.

“Having developed the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile at Mach 2.8, it is logical that we proceed to hypersonic missile with speed of more than Mach 5,” says A. Sivathanu Pillai, missile scientist and chief executive officer at BrahMos Aerospace. “With storable fuel, it is possible to achieve up to Mach 8,” he tells Aviation Week.

He says the technology development groundwork in critical areas such as configuration design, experiments, materials development, control and guidance is in progress. The new missile will be configurable for ground, sea, underwater and air.

“The objective is to develop a multi-target, anti-ship or anti-land targets missile, traveling at a hypersonic speed, which can deliver [a] warhead, assess [the] destruction of [the] target, come back and get ready to go again,” Pillai says.

Pillai says the BrahMos II will be used only by India and Russia “under the joint venture,” and export possibilities will be explored later. “The hypersonic missiles have a great future [since] the speed gives tremendous advantage in war, as reaction time [for] the other side is minimum,” he says.

Founded in 1998, BrahMos Aerospace Ltd. is a joint venture between India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Russia. The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is currently based on the Russian-designed NPO Mashinostroyenie 3M55 Yakhont (SS-N-26).

With a top speed of Mach 2.8 and range of 290 km (180 mi.), the BrahMos can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg (660 lb.) and effectively engage targets from an altitude as low as 10 meters, nearly three times the speed of the U.S.-developed subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile.

The BrahMos already has been deployed with India’s army and navy, and is due to be inducted by the air force before year’s end, pending the completion of flight trials. A submarine-launched version is also in testing, according to BrahMos officials.

India has also asked Russia to start inducting the BrahMos into its naval fleet to further strengthen the joint venture between the two countries. And work is under way to develop an air-launched version for the Su-30MKI fighter.

When Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin toured the BrahMos complex in July, he said, “BrahMos is not only a successful joint venture, but also a model for cooperation which has immense political value for our two countries.”

India in July successfully conducted the 32nd test firing of the 290-km (180-mi.) range BrahMos missile as part of its development trials. The mission’s objective was to evaluate some of the newer subsystems that are produced by Indian industry, according to BrahMos officials. More than 25 such systems were incorporated into the development missile. The data obtained from the test-firing is being analyzed prior to large-scale production.

BrahMos photo: FIB