SU­PER­SONIC SCALPEL

India Today - - UPFRONT - —San­deep Un­nithan

The suc­cess­ful April 21 test-fir­ing of the Indo-Rus­sian BrahMos su­per­sonic cruise mis­sile from an In­dian war­ship is sig­nif­i­cant for sev­eral rea­sons. In­dian war­ships can now strike tar­gets deep in­land with breath­tak­ing ac­cu­racy. They can, for in­stance, pre­cisely hit parked air­craft, de­mol­ish in­di­vid­ual build­ings and, yes, even pass the prover­bial cruise mis­sile test: fly a mis­sile through the goal­posts of a football field.

The test from guided mis­sile frigate INS Teg in the Bay of Ben­gal, which saw the mis­sile hit its tar­get on an is­land in the Ni­co­bar chain, is sig­nif­i­cant for other rea­sons as well. It is the sec­ond test of the ex­tended-range BrahMos af­ter In­dia signed the Mis­sile Tech­nol­ogy Con­trol Regime (MTCR) on June 27 last year. (The mis­sile’s range was capped at 300 km for non-treaty sig­na­to­ries.) The range is now be­lieved to be nearly 450 km. The mis­sile has been in­ducted into the army and the navy. De­liv­er­ies for the air force will fol­low tests later this year. The navy also plans to retro­fit it on ex­ist­ing war­ships.

In the past two years, the mis­sile has crossed sev­eral mile­stones—a sharp dive ca­pa­bil­ity test last May and the two tests post-MTCR. Com­ing up this year are tests of a sleeker air-launched ver­sion fired from a mod­i­fied Su-30MKI against tar­gets on land and at sea. BrahMos Aero­space CEO and MD S.K. Mishra de­clined com­ment on these de­vel­op­ments. How­ever, De­fence Re­search and Devel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion chief S. Christo­pher told the me­dia at the Aero In­dia show ear­lier this year that an 800 km range BrahMos is in the works.

NEW HIGH The BrahMos test-fire on April 21

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