MAKS 2021: Russian-Indian JV offers BrahMos cruise missile to Russian Aerospace Force

The Russian-Indian BrahMos Aerospace joint venture is waiting for a decision from Russia’s Aerospace Force on purchasing the JV’s BrahMos air-launched cruise missile, JV Russian Head Alexander Maksichev told TASS at the MAKS 2021 international airshow. "We have offered our missile to the Russian Aerospace Force. Now it is up to them to decide on its acquisition," he said in response to a question about the prospects for the BrahMos missile to be purchased by the Russian military.

Russian Indian JV offers BrahMos cruise missile to Russian Aerospace Force The Indian Air Force currently operates 40 Su-30MKI fighters designed to launch BrahMos missiles (Picture source: Army Recognition / Air Recognition)

The BrahMos missile version offered to Russia’s Aerospace Force has been fully tested and accepted for service with the Indian Air Force, JV Russian Head Alexander Maksichev said. The Indian Air Force currently operates 40 Su-30MKI fighters designed to launch BrahMos missiles. The BrahMos air-launched missile has a range of 300 km (186 mi). It has been test-launched six times against ground and surface targets.

Southeast Asian countries are potential customers of the Russian-Indian BrahMos supersonic air-launched cruise missile, Maksichev told TASS: "The closest circle of potential buyers of the Russian-Indian BrahMos missile is the region around India". The Russian head also said that many Southeast Asian countries operate Sukhoi Su-30MK (NATO reporting name: Flanker-G) fighter jets and BrahMos missiles will enhance the planes’ combat potential.

"Unfortunately, the issue of orders for our missile has been suspended but not stopped due to the pandemic," Maksichev said.

The BrahMos (designated PJ-10) is a medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft, or land. It is the fastest supersonic cruise missile in the world. It is a joint venture between the Russian Federation's NPO Mashinostroyeniya and India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), who together have formed BrahMos Aerospace. It is based on the Russian P-800 Oniks cruise missile and other similar sea-skimming Russian cruise missile technology. The name BrahMos is a portmanteau formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.

It is the world's fastest anti-ship cruise missile in operation. The land-launched and ship-launched versions are already in service. An air-launched variant of BrahMos appeared in 2012 and entered service in 2019. A hypersonic version of the missile, BrahMos-II, is also presently under development with a speed of Mach 7–8 to boost aerial fast strike capability. It was expected to be ready for testing by 2024.

India wanted the BrahMos to be based on a mid-range cruise missile like the P-700 Granit. Its propulsion is based on the Russian missile, and missile guidance has been developed by BrahMos Aerospace. The missile is expected to reach a total order of US$13 billion.

In 2016, as India became a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), India and Russia are now planning to jointly develop a new generation of Brahmos missiles with an 800 km-plus range and an ability to hit protected targets with pinpoint accuracy. In 2019, India upgraded the missile with a new range of 650 km with plans to eventually upgrade all missiles to a range of 1500 km.

The new-generation BrahMos cruise missile has to complete trials in three-four years, BrahMos JV representative Pravin Pathak told TASS at MAKS-2021 airshow: "We need three-four years to obtain a flight sample of BrahMos-NG and begin engaging the missile on new platforms," he said. The new missile will have more platforms and potential buyers. "We shall definitely wait for the decision of the leadership of our countries about the platforms and national origin for our missile. The contracts have to be profitable for India and Russia, as well as other BrahMos buyers. We shall be very careful about the issue," he said.