Brahmos carried on a Su-30MKI mock up at Aero India 2009. Photo Copyright © Vijainder K Thakur
BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile jointly developed by Russia and India that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land.
It is a joint venture between India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Russia's NPO Mashinostroeyenia who have together formed the BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited.
The Brahmos is based on the SS-NX-26 (Yakhont) missile, which was under development when the Cold War ended in 1991 after which the project ran aground because of lack of funds. India invested $240 million to complete two decades of the missile's development and contributed its inertial navigation system.
DRDO claims that the missile was jointly developed by India and Russia. However, 80% of its components, including the liquid ramjet engine and the radar seeker, are imported in knock-down condition to be reassembled by the Russians.
According to BrahMos managing co-director Alexander Maksichev, "launcher and control system of the missile are made by Indian partners, while Russian party – NPO Mashinostroyenie - is responsible for missile part".
BrahMos Aerospace Chief Executive and Managing Director A Sivathanu Pillai told the press on February 8, 2011 that India intends to make the ramjet engine and the seeker within the country.
In October 2011, Pillai told The Hindu that BrahMos Aerospace Thiruvananthapuram Limited (BATL) will start manufacturing the missile's liquid ramjet engine.
Pillai said BATL has been asked to "make the entire BrahMos missile, including the nose cap, the whole of F3 [the missile section comprising airframe and fuel tank] and the ramjet engine. In effect, it will be the complete missile except the composite part and warhead. Anyway, the BATL is already making some critical airframe components of the missile such as the front docking unit and the shutter assembly.”
A transfer of technology agreement would soon be signed between the appropriate authorities of the two sides to manufacture the engine in India.
At present, the BrahMos engines are produced at Orenburg in Russia. BATL will sign a transfer of technology agreement with its Russian counterpart to facilitate indigenous manufacture of the engine.
One more Indian company would be qualified to make the missile's engines, says Pillai.
The BrahMos was initially developed as an anti-ship missile to equip IN warships, and inducted in Service.
Later, a land attack version was developed for use by the Indian Army and Indian Air Force. This version has been inducted in the Army and is under production for Army and Air Force.
The missile has been successfully fired from a ship against a land target. The Navy has also raised mobile coastal batteries equipped with the missile for use against ships.
An air-launched version of the missile is being developed for SU-30 Mk-I for Indian Air Force. [Ref]
A submarine launched variant of the missile was test fired from a submerged pontoon on March 20, 2013.
The 9.2 m long missile weighs about three tonnes. It can travel at speeds of up to 2.8 Mach or almost thrice the speed of sound. It has a range of 290 km (180 miles) and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg (660 lb).
For target acquisition, the Brahmos uses an active/passive seeker which could be an improved variant of the one found in the Moskit cruise missile provided by Russia to China.
A two-stage missile, its propulsion consists of a solid propellant booster and liquid propellant Ramjet system.
Brahmos, incidentally, is the first and only supersonic cruise missile that uses liquid Ramjet technology.
The missile is launched from a Transport-Launch Canister (TLC), which also acts as storage and transportation container.
Primarily Brahmos is an anti-ship missile. It has the capability to engage land based targets also. The missile can be launched either in vertical or inclined position and will cover 360 degrees.
The Brahmos missile has identical configuration for land, sea and sub sea platforms. The air-launched version has a smaller booster and additional tail fins for stability during launch.
Unlike a conventional cruise missile, like the Tomahawk, which flies at subsonic speeds and hugs the terrain to avoid detection the Brahmos soars high up and accelerates to supersonic speeds quickly allowing its ramjet engine to kick in and sustain its Mach 2.8 cruise towards the target. When over the target it acquires an independent (Passive / Active) lock on it and rams down onto it with high kinetic energy. Since the Brahmos is traveling at 3 times the speed of a conventional subsonic cruise missile, consequently it hits the target with nine times more destructive force.
Block II LACM versions of missiles being supplied to the Indian Army feature an active seeker with an ability to discern a designated target from amidst multiple.
The Block II missile comes with a "multi-spectral seeker" capable of better target discrimination than the current radar seeker.
The Block I missile radar seeker is only effective against isolated, high radio contrast targets, as the missile was basically designed to attack ships. When confronted with multiple targets in the target zone, the missile homes on to the target reflecting the maximum amount of radar energy.
In the land attack mode the missile can easily stray off its designated target when adjacent objects have relatively higher radar reflection.
The Block II variant features an improved control system and self-targeting warhead and software, allowing it to neutralize both radio-contrast and ordinary ground targets. It features a receiver for satellite navigation system signals.
The Block III variant of Brahmos can strike targets while swooping down vertically. The missile is meant for rugged terrains, for example, when the target is hidden behind a mountain or mountain range.
The Block III variant is also capable of flying as low as 10m above the ground.
Brahmos with a vertical launcher (Copyright © Vijainder K Thakur)
The Brahmos missile is claimed to have an impressive salvo fire with intelligent coordinated attack capability.
The capability allows a missile salvo to intelligently takeout multiple ships from within a formation, such as an aircraft carrier group.
Missiles fired in a salvo stagger their attack and automatically reassign themselves new targets if the primary target, say an aircraft carrier is destroyed.
A salvo of nine missiles can penetrate and destroy a group of enemy ships consisting of three frigates with modern anti-ship missiles defense. [Ref: Brahmos brochure DefExpo 2012]
According to Pravda
"The missiles are so clever that they not only detect a target but develop a plan of attack based on the enemy’s air defense. They know exactly which target is the primary one, which of them is an attacker and which is a defender. When the main target is destroyed, they re-prioritize and continue with the attack. Now even more advanced missile is on the way."
On April 29, 2013, the Defense Minister told parliament that Brahmos missile system had been fitted onto 8 naval warships.
Naval and land based versions of the Brahmos missile have been tested and inducted into service. The naval variant of Brahmos on inclined launchers is fitted on INS Rajput.
INS Ranvir and Ranvijay, sister ships of INS Rajput, are being fitted with 8-missile vertical launch systems.
A vertical launch version of the Brahmos was tested from INS Ranvir in December 2008.
A second test of the vertically launched version of the missile was carried out on Sunday, March 21, 2010 from a moving INS Ranvir. The missile successfully hit its intended target, a decommissioned Navy ship, INS Meen, 290 km away in the Bay of Bengal.
The vertical launcher is designed to be fitted under the warship's deck, thereby protecting it from atmospheric conditions and imparting stealth to the weapon system. It also allows the missile to engage targets 360 degrees around the ship.
Besides INS Ranvir and INS Ranvijay, vertical launched version of Brahmos will be fitted on:
1. Three Kolkata-class P-15A ships being built at Mazagon Docks in Mumbai at a cost of Rs 11,662 crore.
2. Modified Krivak III (Project 11356) / Talwar Class frigates (Batch 2) INS Trikand and INS Teg.
3. Future Talwar class Batch 3 frigates. (These maybe built either in Russia or India.)
4. Future Project 15B destroyers.
On April 29, 2013, the Defense Minister told parliament that system has been inducted in two regiments of the Indian Army.
The system has been inducted in two regiments of the Indian Army and eight warships of the Indian Navy. Air version of BrahMos Missile is currently in developmental stage.
The Indian Army ordered 134 mobile anti-ship land-based BrahMos Block I missiles in 2006-2009 and another 240 land-attack BrahMos Block II missiles with a discriminating seeker in 2010, for a total of about $3 billion.
The first LACM battery became operational with the Army in June 2007.
As on December 2, 2010 the Army had one regiment (861) of the BrahMos Block I variant, consisting of 67 missiles, five mobile autonomous launchers on 12x12 Tatra vehicles and two mobile command posts, among other equipment.
The Army raised its second Brahmos regiment (862) equipped with Block 2 missiles somewhere in the Western sector in February 2012. A third Block 2 missile equipped regiment (863) is in the process of being raised.
In September 2011, PTI reported that the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) had approved raising of two additional missile regiments equipped with Block III (Steep Dive) variants of the missile that can hit enemy targets hidden in the shadows of mountains. The missiles will be deployed along the LAC to counter the Chinese build up.
In October 2011, Indian Express reported that the three existing Brahmos missile regiments are earmarked for use on the India - Pakistan border.
The fourth regiment being raised will be deployed in Arunachal Pradesh to counter the Chinese build up in the sector.
A BrahMos cruise missile regiment comprises between 4-6 batteries of 3-4 mobile launchers and two mobile control centers. Each missile launcher is equipped with three missiles.
Each regiment appears to have a 100% missile reserve.
Air Force Order for LACM version
In April 2010 it was announced that the IAF has placed an order for one squadron of Brahmos LACM version .
The Air Force Order is not related to the future procurement of an air launched version of the missile that is still under development.
Work is on to develop a vertically launched submarine versions of Brahmos.
The first test of the missile was conducted at 1410 hrs on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 from a submerged platform in Bay of Bengal off the coast of Visakhapatnam.
According to the DRDO, "The missile took off vertically from the submerged platform for its full range of 290 kms. Following a pre-defined trajectory, the missile emerged from underwater, took a turn towards the designated target meeting all mission objectives. All the telemetry and tracking stations, including Indian naval ships positioned throughout the flight path, confirmed the pin-point accuracy of the mission."
The test was initially planned for end 2011.
“This should happen during the current season in the window between November this year and March next,” BrahMos Aerospace chief A. Sivathanu Pillai told the Hindu in September 2011.
The pontoon used earlier to test the K-15 Shaurya missile will be modified to test the Brahmos. A ring will have to be fitted in it to snugly fit the smaller diameter BrahMos.
The underwater cruise missile will have the same capabilities as its earlier variants and would be able to strike at both land and sea-based targets.
An air launched version of the Brahmos is being developed for use with the Su-30MKI fighters of the IAF.
You can read more about the project here.
BrahMos Aerospace chief A. Sivathanu Pillai told reporters in New Delhi on March 12, 2011 that there are plans to deploy BrahMos on the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). [via Hindu]
“If we are able to reduce the weight of the missile below two tons, we can deploy it on the FGFA and we are looking to do that in future,” he said.
Following a test of the missile on March 30, 2012, he again said that Brahmos was considering developing a smaller version of the missile to equip newly acquired naval fighters such as the MiG-29K.
Brahmos Chief A Sivathanu Pillai told IANS on April 12, 2012 that an underwater launched BrahMos missile will be tested sometime later this year.
"We have all the systems ready. But the sea is not conducive for the test. It is in Sea-III state and this is not suitable for tests," he added.
Brahmos corporate headquarters is located in Delhi, along with the design center.
The Brahmos missile is currently being manufactured at the Brahmos Integration Complex (BIC) in Hyderabad. The BIC integrates components sourced from various manufacturers in Russia and India.
The missile is not being used by Russian armed forces and there are no manufacturing facilities in Russia.
The ramjet engine of the missile is currently being produced at a plant in the Orenburg province of Russia.
On August 26, 2010, BrahMos Aerospace Ltd. CEO Sivathanu Pillai announced plans to setup a new plant to produce Brahmos engines at the Brahmos Aerospace Thiruvananthapuram Limited (BATL) complex in Kerala, India.
A new plant is needed becuase in two years time Brahmos production volumes are expected to exceed the manufacturing capabilities of the Orenburg plant.
Pillai said the decision was made due to a mounting demand for Brahmos missiles in the Indian Armed Forces.