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India test-fires BrahMos high-speed cruise missile from Su-30 fighter jet

India said its supersonic cruise missile passed another key test Wednesday, May 22 when it successfully hit a land target after being fired from a fighter jet.

The Indian defense ministry said a specially converted Su-30 MKI fighter jet successfully fired the 2.5-tonne missile, which has a range of about 300 km (185 miles).

“The launch from the aircraft was smooth and the missile followed the desired trajectory before directly hitting the land target,” a ministry statement said.

It did not say where the test was staged or give other details apart from saying “very complex” mechanical, electrical and software modifications were made to the Russian-origin fighter jet.

The first BrahMos test on a sea target was staged in November 2017.

India said then it was the first country “to have successfully fired an air launched 2.8 Mach surface attack missile of this category on a sea target.”

Wednesday’s test was the second such live launch of the weapon, the ministry said.

“The BrahMos missile provides Indian Air Force a much desired capability to strike from large stand-off ranges on any target at sea or on land with pinpoint accuracy by day or night and in all weather conditions,” the ministry said.

India is developing the supersonic BrahMos missile with Russia, and according to media reports wants to soon start selling it abroad.

BrahMos is a supersonic medium-range liquid-fuelled ramjet-powered cruise missile that can be launched from sea, land and air. It is a two-stage missile, with a solid-fueled first stage to bring it to supersonic speed. Surface-launched missiles can carry a 200-kg warhead, while the air-launched variant can carry a payload of 300 kg.

It is manufactured in Hyderabad by BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture between India’s DRDO and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroeyenia. BrahMos is named for the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers of India and Russia respectively.

Officials from the enterprise have said at recent international air shows that discussions on sales are being held with a number of countries.

In December 2016, Jane’s reported that India and Russia had agreed to undertake “joint technical development work” to extend the missile’s range beyond 292 km, after India joined the Missile Technology Control Regime.

A new extended range variant with a range “far beyond 400km” was tested in March 2017, and in November, the missile was successfully test-fired from an IAF Su-30 MKI fighter jet.

In March 2018, India successfully flight tested a BrahMos fitted with an indigenous seeker, and launched it a further three times last year, including a July test from a mobile autonomous launcher in “extreme weather conditions” as part of a service life extension.

In February, an Indian defense industry official said the BrahMos-A would begin its final developmental or certification trials with the IAF in the third quarter this year, including certified launches against a naval and ground target, the Diplomat reported.

India and Russia are reported to be preparing plans for a longer range version of the missile which could fly at up to Mach 5, or 6,125 km (3,800 miles) per hour.

With reporting from AFP

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