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IAF decides on Sukhoi-30 for BrahMos, final tests from end-’14

Delivery of first batch of 40 BrahMos missile air frames

Indian Air Force has chosen its frontline Sukhoi-30 fighter jets as the platform to mount the supersonic BrahMos missiles
Delivery of first batch of 40 BrahMos missile air framesMumbai: The Indian Air Force has chosen its frontline  Sukhoi-30 fighter jets as the platform to mount the supersonic BrahMos missiles, whose first test launch will be carried out by the end of 2014, a top official said today.

“We have chosen Sukhoi-30. That is a deep penetration aircraft which is being produced at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s Nashik facility in collaboration with the Russians,” BrahMos Aerospace managing director and chief executive AS Pillai told reporters here.

He said an air version of the BrahMos missile is ready, but testing, simulations and aircraft modifications will take a year more and the final flight with the missile will happen only by the end of 2014.

Under a contract, BrahMos Aerospace has to deliver the supersonic cruise missile to the IAF starting 2015 and Pillai exuded confidence that the deadline will be met.

Pillai said the IAF asked for the weight of the missile to be reduced to 2.5 tonne from the general 3 tonne as the launch at high speeds requires lesser components on propulsion, and his company has been able to do it.

The BrahMos was jointly developed in the early 2000s and has since been inducted by the Army and the Navy. An air platform, has however, not been completed yet.

Pillai claimed it is the only supersonic cruise missile platform in the world which travels at supersonic speeds and can be launched from both sea and land.

BrahMos Aerospace is a 50.5:49.5 partnership between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation and Russia’s NOPM, and it has been tasked with manufacturing the missile for use by the armed forces of both the countries.

Asked about the failure of the company to convince the Russian armed forces to induct the missile system even after a decade of its launch, Pillai said the company will take up the matter with the Russians for induction.

“We are making all out effort for this. As per the inter-governmental agreement, India and Russia both have to induct the JV product and also, we can sell to some friendly countries… we are telling the Russian government it is time they inducted it,” Pillai said.

He said recently Indian engineers fitted the missile system on a Talwar class frigate being built at a Russian shipyard, and added Russia can also emulate it.

Pillai, however, said each country’s individual threat perceptions and strategies may differ.

The order book of BrahMos Aerospace currently stands at USD 6 billion and it is targeting to take it to USD 10 billion in a few years’ time.

The company typically outsources a slew of jobs which go into the making of the missile system to the private sector players like Godrej & Boyce, L&T, among others for faster production.

Godrej completed a contract to deliver 40 air frames of the missile, which include combined pneumo-hydro systems, wing, fin, nose-cap and nose-cap motors, last month and kicked off a four-year efforts to deliver 100 more today, chairman and managing director Jamshyd Godrej said.

He said the company is very happy at partnering with the government bodies for the BrahMos project, and added that Godrej was working closely with other strategic projects like the ISRO’s missions to Mars and Moon and the Prithvi missile, among others.

Godrej said though defence and strategic work does not contribute a significant portion to the company’s revenues, the company engages in such activities “given its DNA”.

Pillai said his company is presently working on the next level of the BrahMos, which entails making it into a reusable hypersonic missile which will hit the target and come back to the base. The project will take up to seven years to come to fruition.


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