A modified Indian Air Force Su-30MKI flew today for the first time with a BrahMos-A supersonic cruise missile on its belly hardpoint. The flight from HAL’s airfield in Nashik where India license-builds the Su-30 had been declared successful by the team that managed the years-long integration and test programme. To be sure, today’s flight is a mini-culmination of what has been a typically complicated exercise. From the DRDO’s initial assumption that a Su-30 with stiffened wings could deploy a pair of BrahMos, to Sukhoi Design Bureau’s ill-tempered lack of cooperation in the platform modification exercise. Ultimately, HAL and BrahMos had to do it by themselves.
As BrahMos CEO Sudhir Mishra declared today on his Facebook page, “Another first in the world purely Make In India effort.”
The BrahMos-A carriage flight today will be the first of many before an actual firing test. Enormous complexities with the system integration, flight laws and dynamics of weapons release/ignition have slowed progress, though today’s flight finally provides a boost to the air-launched variant sub-project.
“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,” BrahMos said in a statement shortly after today’s flight.
The statement added these interesting nuggets too:
The powerful missile will enable the IAF penetrate deep inside the enemy territory to deliver a deadly blow to their vital installations from stand-off ranges. The integration brings a paradigm shift in the capability of the IAF vis-à-vis its adversaries. The Su-30- BRAHMOS 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.
Integration of BRAHMOS with the Su-30MKI will render the weapon a multi-platform capability while making the IAF the only Air Force in the world in procession of a supersonic cruise missile system.
Today’s flight trial has been keenly observed by several other nations in the world in possession of the Su-30 strike fighter who are looking towards acquiring a lethal weapon system for the Russian-made warplanes.