Monday, October 12, 2009

India Likely to Test-Fire BrahMos Supersonic Missile in Dec

To add more teeth to the country's underwater weapons delivery capabilities, India is planning to test-fire the 290-km range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from an undersea platform off the coast of Orissa soon.

The test-firing is planned to be carried out in mid-December and will prove the Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos cruise missile's capability to be fired from submarines, Defence Ministry sources told PTI.

Underwater weapon-delivery platforms are considered to be the most potent second strike capability and the addition of nuclear capable BrahMos in its submerged arsenal is expected to provide more strength to India's 'no first strike' nuclear policy.

India has developed significant underwater weapon delivery platforms in the recent past including an indigenously-built nuclear submarine INS Arihant and successfully test-fired the nuclear capable 700 km range K-15 Shaurya missile early this year. The Navy is also expecting to receive a Russian-made Akula-II class 'Nerpa' nuclear submarine on lease by early next year.

The test-firing of the BrahMos is likely be done from a pontoon at Integrated Test Range in Balasore on Orissa coast from a DRDO facility. The same pontoon was used for carrying out the test-firing of the 700-km range K-15 'Shaurya' Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile early this year, the sources said.

A ring will have to be fitted in the existing pontoon for fitting-in the BrahMos, which has a relatively smaller diameter than the K-15 SLBM, the sources said.

The under-water cruise missile will have the same capabilities as its earlier variants and would be able to strike at both land and sea-based targets, they added.

The Indian Navy also wants that its second line of Project 75A submarines should have the capability of firing the BrahMos. The Navy had released the Request for Information (RFI) in September last year for acquiring six submarines as a follow-on order of the Scorpene submarines.

BrahMos has been developed jointly by India and Russia and has been inducted in the Army and Navy already. The IAF is also working on integrating the missile on its Su-30MKI air superiority aircraft.

The two countries have also signed an agreement for developing the hypersonic version of the missile, which currently flies at a speed of 2.8 mach.

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