For the first time, a Sukhoi fighter jet flew with the supersonic BrahMos missile, moving it closer to trials for launching the missiles from the air.
The demonstration flight, carried out at the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) here, involved carriage of BrahMos missile on the Su-30MKI fighter.
BrahMos Aerospace is a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s Federal State Unitary Enterprise NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM).
This is the first time the BrahMos missile was “married” to a fighter jet.
IAF’s fight test crew Wing Commander Prashant Nair and Wing Commander M.S. Raju flew the BrahMos carrying fighter for 45 minutes under a cloudy sky.
“With today’s successful flight, the BrahMos air version programme now inches closer towards actual test firing when a 2.5-ton BrahMos air-to-ground missile will be fired from the Sukhoi-30 in the coming months,” a BrahMos official said.
CMD HAL, T. Suvarna Raju and CEO and MD BrahMos Aerospace Sudhir Kumar Mishra were present at the trial.
“It is a perfect example of Make in India and an engineering marvel in aviation history of India. It proves that when all agencies come together with one mission, there is nothing like impossible”, Raju said.
Mishra said: “It is the first time in the world that such a heavy weight (2,500 kg) supersonic cruise missile has been integrated on a fighter aircraft. The world did not believe us that we could do it and thanks to the vision of late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, we could achieve this today and history is made.”
Around 40 Su-30 MKI aircraft are expected to be modified for carrying the missile.
The maiden flight will be followed by a series of test flights and complete evaluation and certification of BrahMos missile on Su-30, HAL said.
The combination will carry out air combat operations within and beyond visibility range and will provide the IAF with the capability of attacking targets protected by powerful air defence assets.
The Su-30, considered the most potent fighter jet with India, was the choice for fitting the BrahMos missile having an airframe of titanium and high-strength aluminium alloys, fit for a high-speed terrain following profile.
The Nashik division of HAL has modified two Su-30 fighters, which includes hardened electronic circuitry to shield it from the electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear blast.
The missile was also modified carrying a reduced booster and fins for stability.
It can be released from a height of 500 to 14,000 meters (1,640 to 46,000 ft.). After release, the missile free falls for 100-150 meters, then goes into a cruise phase at 14,000 meters and finally the terminal phase at 15 meters from the target.
The version of the missile for the aircraft is also lighter than its sea and land counterparts.