New Delhi: While the first carriage flight of Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft with BrahMos missile only a dummy drop was successfully achieved in June 2016, the firing of the actual supersonic missile is now scheduled for April. This integration will allow India to order surgical strikes destroying targets about 300 km away.
A senior officer privy to the testing process told TOI: “The testing is in the advanced stages. A few minor marrying issues (integrating Indian systems with the Russian aircraft) are being sorted out. We are confident that the fighter and the missile will be ready for a flight in April.”
When the Su-30MKI becomes operational with BrahMos missiles, it will provide the Indian Air Force with its most lethal fighting power till date. Indian pilots will no longer be required to fly to heavily defended airspace to strike enemy fighter bases, or targets like terrorist camps, nuclear installations and military headquarters.
“Out fighters can launch this missile about 300-km from their target and return to safety. The missile will take care of the rest,” a senior pilot who flies the Su-30s for IAF said.
Pointing out that all of IAF’s fighter jets have foreign origins, a retired Air Marshal said that while minor modifications had been carried out in the past, to be able to mount an indigenised cruise missile, which can boast of being one of the best in the world, is an achievement.
The project, which was first conceived in 2012, saw defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) take more than two years to handover a modified Su-30MKI which could be integrated with the missile.
After that was achieved, the process of integration began and the team, in 2015, ran into some certification issues. Brahmos Aerospace, the lead agency for the integration, was yet to complete the certification of the launcher that would launch the missile then. But sources have said that the problem was overcome before the June 2016 flight.
“Now, all that is left is a few minor problems, which should be sorted out in about 30-35 days,” another source said. The IAF’s initial requirement is for two Su-30 MKIs with BrahMos, but it eventually wishes to integrate 216 missiles on 42 Sukhoi fighters. The project was first conceived in July-August 2012.