BrahMos Missile With ‘Enhanced Capability’ Successfully Test-fired By India

The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, with “increased indigenous content and improved performance”, was successfully test-fired on 20 January, 2022. The launch was conducted by BrahMos Aerospace along with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The test was conducted from a static vertical launcher at India’s Integrated Test Range at Chandipur. This flight test was monitored by telemetry, radar and electro-optical tracking systems deployed across the eastern coast and on down range ships. The three ton missile followed the predicted trajectory, meeting all mission objectives.

The BrahMos missile followed a new optimal trajectory for enhanced efficiency and improved performance. It had a modified control system that had been fine-tuned to achieve the required enhancements. The missile cruised at supersonic speed for its maximum range, which was not specified. However, the range is believed to have been over 600km based on the area warning issued for the test. This makes the flight test a major milestone for the BrahMos programme, since earlier tests featured a maximum reported range of up to 450km. Moreover, the missile retains the same dimensions as its lower ranged predecessors.

This is the second test of the longer ranged ‘enhanced capability’ version of the missile. The first test was conducted on 12 July, 2021 but failed immediately after launch, suspected to be caused by a booster malfunction. That test had an area warning similar to the current test. The current test marks the third since December 2021. The air-launched version of BrahMos was certified for serial production after a successful test in December 2021. A test for an advanced sea to sea version of the missile was conducted from INS Visakhapatnam on January 11, 2022. This time period also saw the Philippines become the first export customer of the missile after initial funding was released and a notice of award was given for procuring the missile.

BrahMos launched from a static vertical launcher during the test. A static inclined launcher, used in some earlier tests, is also visible (Indian Ministry of Defence)

Teams from DRDO and NPO Mashinostroyeniya, the Russian joint venture partner, participated in the flight test. BrahMos Aerospace has been continuously upgrading the BrahMos missile, which is in service with the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force, to increase its indigenous content and effectiveness against both sea and land targets. An RF seeker, airframe, power supply and booster are among the Indian components previously tested on the missile since 2018. A new RF imaging seeker as well as different warheads are also being developed for the Mach 3 capable missile. A smaller, faster version called BrahMos NG is also being developed. It would weigh about 1.5 tons and have a higher speed of about Mach 5.