Indian Air Force’s multi-role Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighters could be armed with supersonic cruise missiles by 2012, giving them the capability to strike ground targets from stand-off distance.
“The work to adopt the missile for deployment on fighter is being carried out by the Rosoboronexport, the Sukhoi Design Bureau and NPO Mashinostroyeniya (Russian partner in BrahMos JV),” a top official of the aircraft manufacturer has said, adding that the missiles could be mounted on the aircraft in two years.
With this, India would get the capability to fire these missiles from land, sea as well as air. BrahMos are already fitted on naval warships as well as inducted by the Army.
India and Russia are in the process of developing a hypersonic version of the missile.
“If things go well, we may offer modernised Su-30 MKI fighters to India and our other foreign partners by 2012,” deputy chief of Irkut Corporation Vladimir Sautov was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.
The Irkut Corporation is a prime contractor in manufacturing the Su-30MKI multirole fighters for the Indian Air Force and has 15 per cent share in Russia’s arms exports.
“The modernisation programme includes re-equipping of some 100 Su-30 MKI fighters, which are currently in service with the IAF,” Mr. Sautov said.
Mr. Sautov said a lighter version of the BrahMos is under test to enable Su-30MKI fighters to carry up to three missiles.
The BrahMos missile, jointly developed by India’s DRDO and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya and produced by New Delhi-based BrahMos Aerospace JV, has a range of 290 km and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg.
Indian Navy and Army have already inducted BrahMos cruise missiles, which are three times faster than the U.S. Tomahawk missiles.
Along with the air launch version, work is also in advanced stages to adopt BrahMos missiles for the Indian submarines.