India is moving towards joining the club of few countries having air-launched cruise missiles with a proposal to equip the Indian Air Force's frontline fighter aircraft Su-30 MKI with BrahMos.
The Cabinet Committee on Security is soon expected to consider the proposal of the Defence Ministry to procure the air-launched version of the 290-km-range BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles for the IAF, sources told PTI in New Delhi.
The proposal involves sanctioning of funds for the integration and testing of the BrahMos missile on the Russian-origin Su-30MKI of the Indian Air Force, they said.
As per the plans, the first test of the air-launched version of the supersonic cruise missile, developed jointly by India and Russia, is to be conducted by December-end.
Sources said two SU-30 MKI of the IAF would be modified indigenously by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at its Nasik facility where they will also be integrated with the aerial launcher developed by the BrahMos.
The BrahMos missiles integrated on the Su-30s will help the IAF in achieving the capability to deliver a deadly-blow to enemy formations from stand-off ranges of around 300 km without getting close to them.
The air-launched version, they said, will be lighter and smaller than the land-based version of the missile so that it can be fitted to the aircraft.
One of the two speed boosters in the missile has been removed for the air version of the weapon system as after being launched from an aircraft moving at a speed of more than 1.5 mach, the missile will automatically gain its momentum and maintain its speed of 2.8 mach, the sources said.The range and speed of the missile will remain the same as that of its land and ship-launched versions, they said. At present, only a few countries like the US have air-launched cruise missiles.