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Supersonic missiles: India is the king
July 23, 2006 21:26 IST
The Indian Army will become the first force in the world to field supersonic cruise missiles by operationalising the Indo-Russian 290-km range BrahMos surface-to-surface missile by September 2007.
BrahMos' biggest advantage, according to missile experts, is that if produced in large numbers it could tilt the conventional arms balance between India and Pakistan.
Though Islamabad claims to have tested its own version of cruise missiles, defence experts say both China and Pakistan have access only to subsonic version of the missile.
Artillery officers estimate that around 90 mobile autonomous launchers would be enough for India to create a major strategic deterrence.
According to Army sources, the new BrahMos artillery missile units would be equipped with four launchers that will have the capability of firing twelve missiles simultaneously at twelve different targets within 30 seconds.
DRDO sources said a single launcher can also be detached from the battery to operate independently to give land forces operational flexibility and make detections extremely difficult.
BrahMos, according to experts, could outmatch the subsonic US Tomahawk Cruise missiles as it has three times more dispersion and impact almost six to eight times more.
The anti-ship naval version of the missile has been cleared for deployment on all naval warships and the test trials of the air-launched version will be held in summer next year.
The DRDO scientists have also reached an advanced stage in making a submarine-launched version of the missile.
The air version, to be fired from a modified SU-30 MKI, according to DRDO sources, will be lighter, smaller and also be equipped with the multi-mode seeker.
The army has given its go-ahead for production of the land version. Army chief General J J Singh was present when the surface-to-surface version of the missile was successfully test-fired at the Pokhran range in Rajasthan.
All the three trials of the missile to test its range and accuracy have been highly successful and the army has already dispatched artillery officers to Hyderabad for training to operate BrahMos, a highly placed defence source said.
When raised, the new BrahMos missile units will be the third such missile-formations in the country. The army, under its lone 40th artillery division, has already raised specialised groups to operate short-range 150-300 km Prithvi missile and longer range Agni-I (700 kms) and Agni-II (1,500-2,500 kms).
Buoyed by the successful test-trials of the land version of the BrahMos, Indian scientists are now working on the advanced version of the supersonic missile with longer reach, improved trajectory design, a touch-button-guidance system and capability to carry miniaturised warheads.
"We are aiming for a lighter missile with a small warhead and faster speed, up to Mach 8, to incorporate scramjet technology," a senior DRDO official said.