On May 31, 2023, Air Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari called for the development of a smaller version of the BrahMos missile for smaller fighter jets such as Mirage-2000, MiG-29 and the Indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA Tejas)
He stressed the fact that the weapon system can be used effectively for land attacks. The remarks were made at the BrahMos User Meet 2023 in New Delhi.
Currently, the Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, the main backbone of the Indian Air Force fleet, are equipped with the air-launched version of the BrahMos missile. The version is three times faster than the speed of sound and weighs 2.5 tonnes.
The BrahMos Next Generation Missile, which weighs 1.2 tonnes, will be more lethal than its predecessor missile variants, officials who were aware of the matter said.
“Achieving this milestone (the development of the BrahMos Next Generation) will be one of the biggest leaps that we can achieve in Atmanirbharta,” the Air Chief said at an event organised to mark the Silver jubilee of BrahMos Aerospace an India-Russia joint venture.
The Air Force had initially planned to modify forty Su-30MKI fighters to carry the missile, but today, the entire fleet has been modified to carry the missile. He described the missiles as one of the most powerful and potent assets possessed by the Indian Air Force.
“The missile has really galvanised the way we equip ourselves with precision firepower in the coming years. Seeing the conflicts that are happening all across the globe, the importance of precision and long-range missiles cannot be underscored,” Chaudhari said.
According to Chaudhari, developing BrahMos Next Generation missiles should be a focus area. “This is an area where we really need to focus our energy and apply our scientific minds to develop a smaller weapon with the same reach and lethality. This could be taken as challenges in your journey towards your 50th Anniversary,” he said.
In January 2020, India upgraded its capabilities to keep a watch on the strategically important Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and deliver an offensive option swiftly. If necessary, with the IAF basing its Su-30MKI fighters in southern India for the first time.
The IAF raised the new squadron of Su-30MKI jets at the Thanjavur Air Force Station (AFS) in Tamil Nadu. The fighters are equipped with the air-launched version of the BrahMos missile. It will allow the IAF to strike land and sea-based targets from stand-off ranges with pinpoint accuracy, irrespective of the weather conditions.
The land and naval variants are 500kg heavier than the current version.
“The existing BrahMos missile was designed 25 years ago. The Next generation (NG) variant will use the latest tools, materials, and electronic and future aerostructures. It will be lighter and faster than the current air-launched version and further boost the capabilities,” said former BrahMos Aerospace chairman Sudhir Mishra.
According to the 2nd Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Anil Chauhan, Atmanirbharta does not mean that India will produce everything indigenously, who also spoke on occasion. “that is not possible for a developing nation like India, so, we will establish joint ventures, and BrahMos is one such venture. It has been a big success story in Atmanirbharta and has fortified India’s deterrence power. The three services have successfully operationalised the missile system and is a ‘Bramhastra’ of its times, Chauhan added.
The BrahMos missile flies three times faster than sound (Mach-2.8) and is based on the Fire and Forget Principle. It can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft, and land platforms. Its range has been capped by the MTCR (Missile Technologies Control Regime) to around 290 kilometres.
However, as India became a part of the MTCR, Russia is not obligated to deny technology transfer for longer-range missile versions to India or not be involved in a joint project with India to manufacture missiles with a range of over 300 kilometres.