contracts and deliveries
Today, Su-30MKI two-seat multirolesupermanoeuvrable fighters are theimage warplanes of the Indian Air Force(IAF) and the cutting-edge weapon in theservice’s inventory. To date, Irkut Corp.has delivered over 50 aircraft like that toIAF, while the ongoing licence produc-tion of the fighter by HAL’s manufactur-ing plants, coupled with new deliveriesfrom Russia, will enable IAF by the mid-dle of next decade to operate as manyas 230 such aircraft, most of which willhave remained in the inventory until2030–40. The Su-30MKI programme isnot sitting on its hands with the cur-rent fighters received by IAF differingfrom the first batches of the early 2000sin a more capable fire control systemowing to advanced operating modes andenhanced avionics.Because the Su-30MKI production anddeliveries are to go on for at least fiveyears more and its service for at least aquarter of the century, the question of itsfurther refinement is on the agenda now.Fitting the IAF Su-30MKI fleet with theadvanced BrahMos-A precision-guid-ed long-range multirole air-to-surfacemissile under development by theRussian-Indian joint venture BrahMosAerospace is seen as a priority as part ofsuch work. The venture has developedand beeing delivering the shipborne andland-based BrahMos missile systemsto the Indian Navy and Army and nowdeveloping its airborne version. So, whatnew capabilities can the BrahMos offer,once fitted to the Su-30MKI?
First, a few words are due about the mis-sile itself. The development of the BrahMos versatile multirole supersonic cruise mis-sile, capable of taking out radio-con-trast targets up to 300 km, has becomea most significant Russian-Indian armsdevelopment programme of late. This year, the programme marks its tenth anni- versary: the BrahMos development deal was clinched in July 1999, succeeding theFebruary 1998 intergovernmental agreement.The missile was co-developed by Russianand Indian designers as a derivative of the Yakhont antiship missile from NPOMash(Reutov, Moscow Region), in several vari-ants at once – the naval (for surface ship andsubmarine basing), land-based (for mobileand stationary launchers) and air-launchedones. To run the programme, the two coun-tries set up the BrahMos joint venture (thename is the abbreviation of the names of theIndian and Russian rivers Brahmaputra andMoskva respectively) that pooled personnelof NPOMash and India’s Defence Research& Development Organisation (DRDO).The first test launch of the BrahMoscruise missile by an experimental groundlauncher took place on 13 June 2001, andthe first sea launch by the INS Rajput guid-ed missile destroyer followed on 13 February 2003. Following the completion of the testprogramme, the BrahMos missile system’santiship version entered service with theIndian Navy and fitted Rajput-class GMdestroyers, with surface ships in other class-es (destroyers and frigates) to be equipped with it later. The same missile system may equip Indian Navy submarines as well.Following the Indian Navy’s footsteps, theIndian Army adopted the ground-to-ground version. The first launches of the mobilesystem took place in December 2004, and inMay 2006, the Indian Army awarded the con-tract for the first BrahMos battalion operatingthe mobile variant based on the Tatra truck’s wheeled vehicle licence-produced by Indianindustry. Deliveries of the BrahMos surface-to-surface version to the Indian Army kickedoff in 2007.“Our missile is, essentially, universal”, saysDr. Sivathanu Pillai, head of Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace, “and thetests we have subjected it to have been useda universal missile effective against varioustypes of targets. Simply put, the BrahMos iseffective against radio-contrast targets – bothground and naval. The current seeker with
Su-30MKI + BrahMos
Su-30MKI + BrahMos
= new capabilities of Indian Air Force
A n d r e y F o m i n