India performed its first test firing of the submarine-launched variant of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile on March 20.
The missile took off vertically from a submerged platform off the coast of Visakhapatnam in southern India, followed a predetermined trajectory and achieved its full range of 290 km (180 mi.), according to program officials.
“Following a pre-defined trajectory, the missile emerged from underwater [and] took a turn toward the designated target, meeting all mission objectives. All the telemetry and tracking stations, including Indian naval ships positioned throughout the flight path, confirmed the pinpoint accuracy of the mission,” a BrahMos official says.
This test marks the first time any supersonic cruise missile has been launched vertically from a submerged platform.
India plans to invest more than 550 billion rupees ($10 billion) on six new subs for its navy under a project named P75 (I). A. Sivathanu Pillai, CEO and managing director of BrahMos Aerospace, says the “BrahMos missile is fully ready for [integration with] P75 (I) of [the] Indian navy in [the] vertical launch configuration, which will make the platform one of the most powerful weapon platforms in the world.”
A joint project by India and Russia, the BrahMos missile can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg. (660 lb.) It has a top speed of Mach 2.8, about three times faster than the subsonic U.S. Tomahawk cruise missile.
The BrahMos can be launched from submarines, ships and aircraft. Ship- and ground-launched versions of the missile have been successfully tested and put into service with the Indian army and navy.
“The naval variant of the missile has already proved its mettle in both vertical and inclined launch configurations from moving warships,” the official says. “The missile has been successfully inducted in a number of frontline Indian navy warships and will be deployed in other future surface ships. They are capable of both maritime strike and land attack.”
The BrahMos test comes close on the heels of India’s secretive K-15 subsurface-launched missile test in January.
India has already tested the Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM), designated K-15, more than a dozen times and in January conducted the SLBM’s last development trial. The process of integrating SLBM with the INS Arihant, the indigenously-built nuclear submarine, is expected to begin soon.
This capability would complete India’s nuclear triad, making the country capable of launching nuclear missiles from air, land and sea. The triad’s other elements are the Agni missile with a range up to 3,106 mi., and the Mirage-2000, Su-30MKI and MiG-29 fighters.
Indian defense scientists are developing another SLBM (K-5) with a range of nearly 1,864 mi.
BrahMos photo: Indian navy