Air launched version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was successfully test fired from an Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi Su-30 MKI on December 8, 2021. The missile followed the pre-planned trajectory proving the structural integrity, functional performance and met all mission objectives. The successful launch clears the air-launched BrahMos variant for serial production within India.
The air-launched version of BrahMos was first tested on November 22, 2017. Further tests were conducted on May 22, 2019 and December 17, 2019. The May 2019 test was against a land target while others were against sea targets. The first squadron of Su-30 MKI aircraft capable of carrying BrahMos was inducted on January 20, 2020 at Thanjavur in southern India. In June 2020 the system received ‘fleet release clearance’ from the Center for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC), DRDO.
On October 30, 2020, IAF conducted a long range mission where a Su-30MKI took off from an air base in Punjab, refueled mid-air and struck a target ship in the Indian Ocean, flying a total of 4000km. The press release associated with the latest test also revealed that an air-launched test had been conducted in July 2021, a month where a land-launched BrahMos test had failed upon launch. This was likely to have been conducted between July 15 and 17 according to the following area warning:
BrahMos is a joint venture between India’s DRDO and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya for the development, production and marketing of the supersonic cruise missile. BrahMos has already been inducted into all three services in India.
To deploy the 2.5 ton air-launched version of BrahMos the Su-30MKI aircraft required mechanical, electrical and software modifications. The software development of the aircraft was undertaken by the IAF engineers while Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) carried out mechanical and electrical modifications on the aircraft. Private industries are also involved in the project with major metallic, non-metallic air frame sections comprising the ramjet fuel tank and pneumatic fuel supply system developed by Godrej Aerospace. Over 40 Su-30MKI aircraft are planned to be modified for carrying BrahMos with an expected production of over 200 air-launched missiles.