Indian Sukhoi Fighter Carries Brahmos Missile For The First Time
The Indo-Russian Brahmos missile has officially taken flight aboard an Indian Air Force Su-30MKI for the first time in history. This marked a major milestone for Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) which carried out the 45 minute captive carry test flight on June 25th. The long-delayed test flight faced significant issues relating to the limited design data that was shared by Brahmos Aerospace Pvt. Ltd (BAPL) which is a joint venture between the Russian NPOM missile house and the Indian Defence Research and Development Organization.
The CEO and managing director of BAPL Sudhir Kumar Mishra proudly claimed that the test flight marked the very first time in history that a heavyweight supersonic cruise missile has been fully integrated on a long-range fighter aircraft. The project was approved back in 2011 to adapt the land/ship-launched weapon for air launch but was delayed by the transfer of technology and concerns regarding intellectual property rights. At the onset only seven percent of the technology was shared so there was understandably almost no headway being made.
First of all the undercarriage of the Su-30MKI had to be strengthened in order to safely carry the 2,500-kg missile. This required new hard points along with other modifications that had to be applied to the structure. Secondly the rocket booster on the launched versions of the Brahmos had to be removed and finally HAL had to integrate the missile with the aircraft’s fire control systems, simulator tests had to be performed and flight-test instrumentation had to be developed.
Indian defense analyst Vijainder Thakur revealed that the cost of adapting the Brahmos for air launch was incredibly costly and opined that downsizing the missile would’ve been a better approach. BAPL had previously attempted to reduce the size of the missile’s ramjet engine to no avail. Only 2 out of 40 planned Su-30MKIs modifications by the Indian Air Force was successful in the past two years. The first flew out in January of 2015 with a dummy missile. An IAF official recently commented to AIN that it is difficult to commit to the certification goals set forth by the first quarter of 2017.
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