India is working on fitting the supersonic cruise missile Brahmos on the next generation fighter aircraft which it will develop jointly with Russia.
The BrahMos would also be test-fired underwater by year-end and fitted on Sukhoi fighters by next year, BrahMos Aerospace chief A. Sivathanu Pillai said on Saturday.
“If we are able to reduce the weight of the missile below two tonnes, we can deploy it on the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) and we are looking to doing that in future,” he said speaking at the Press Club of India here. The FGFA is a joint venture aircraft development programme under which India will induct 250-300 of these advanced planes.
No row with Russia
Mr. Pillai refuted reports of disputes with Russia over modifications to the Su-30MKIs being upgraded to fire-from-the-air version. “The trials of launching BrahMos cruise missile from air will begin in 2012 and there will be no delay in the programme due to this.”
On the submarine version, he said, “We will test-fire the underwater version by the end of this year after we get the pontoon.”
This news gains significance in light of reports suggesting that India plans to acquire six conventional submarines and receive nuclear powered submarines from Russia on lease.
The test-firing missile would be done from a pontoon at the Integrated Test Range in Balasore on the Orissa coast from a DRDO facility.
A ring will have to be fitted into the existing pontoon for fitting in the BrahMos, which has a relatively small diameter compared to the K-15 SLBM.
The under-water missile will have the same capabilities as its earlier variants and will be able to strike at both land and sea-based targets.
Mr. Pillai maintained that many countries showed interest in the missile and a supervisory council comprising Indian and Russian officials had given clearance for exporting it to friendly countries.
He lauded the three services for supporting plans to export the missile after their requirements were met.
They have already placed orders worth Rs. 20,000 crore.